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Winter 2003 | Volume 26, Number 1 | From the President
Pushing the Boundaries

SPU Aims to Take Its Vision to New Spheres of Influence and Effectiveness

At SPU’s “Sacred Sounds of Christmas” concert in Benaroya Hall, President Philip Eaton and Sharon Eaton (left) greet faculty member Michael Macdonald (middle) and alumni Sarah Adams Furtado ’51 and Frank Furtado ’61. The concert is one way Seattle Pacific is reaching beyond campus borders with the Christian message.

I WAS SPEAKING to a group of people recently, and I said something, quite unintended, about how much I love my work. As I made these remarks, I was surprised by the intensity that crept into my voice. I do love my work. I love Seattle Pacific University. I love the people with whom I work. I love the students. I love the vision and purpose and mission of this special place. I love learning, which is at the heart of who we are as a university. I love that we are given an extraordinary opportunity, as a premier Christian university, of working to change the world so that all of God’s children may flourish.

Someone from the group then asked me, “Well, what in the world do you do all day that you love so much?” In other words, “Could you get a little more concrete for us?” As I sorted through my mind what it is that gets me up in the morning, it went something like this: I love most growing further and deeper into understanding and articulating our vision of engaging the culture and changing the world. I think it is extremely important that a leader love vision-work, and I do. I want to do my part each day to see that this vision bears fruit and that the University finds its focus and direction in a clear and compelling vision. I read and reflect and listen; I talk and speak and write about this vision. I push, and I press for others to do the same.

But I also answered the question in a way that surprised some folks: I love the business part of my work. I love finding those strategic, economic levers that allow us to allocate, align, realign and increase our resources — so that our vision might bear fruit. By the way, I don’t whisper about this love, as if this is some lesser part of my work. I speak out about the economics of our work because I believe wholeheartedly that vision only bears fruit when we provide and use resources well and wisely.

Can you imagine running a business with any bigger purpose than changing the world with the love, light and grace of the gospel? This is about taking an institution called the university, making sure everything is centered around the power of the gospel, making sure we focus our work — graduating students of competence and character; conducting clear, relevant and wise scholarship; modeling genuine community — and then making sure we have the tools to get the job done well. Providing the tools, the means, the resources — that’s the business side of my work, and I get very excited about tackling this challenge each day.

Over the last year and a half we have heavily invested our time and energies in understanding better the economics of our business. And as we have sorted through all of the economic variables — our costs and our prices, financial aid, balanced and increasing revenue sources — I come to the conclusion that we stand at a crossroads, a pivotal marker point in the life of Seattle Pacific. We can either coast for a while, counting our blessings that we are healthy and that our momentum is strong, trusting that we can weather whatever economic vulnerabilities we might have. Or we can open a whole new chapter of taking our vision to new spheres of influence and effectiveness.

Really, there is no choice. We are not about to sit still. At this fork in the road, we are now launching a major new strategy that we will be calling something like “broadening the base.” The goals are quite ambitious. We must cast our net much wider than ever before.

Broadening the base is in part a business strategy — to locate new markets, raise funds and recruit students from across the nation and the world, and position ourselves in whole new areas of support. Ultimately our desire is to strengthen, diversify and balance our sources of revenue.

But this strategy is ultimately and primarily driven by a desire to extend the reach of our vision. It means taking the risk that our vision to engage the culture and change the world has huge relevance for our time and for Christian higher education across the country.

I find the story of the gospel of Jesus explosive, persistently expansive, never timid, never content that the work is finished or that the ground is covered. Seattle Pacific University is called to participate in some small way in this grand, far-reaching, exuberant story of life and love. That means we must keep pushing the boundaries and broadening the base, forging into new territory. And that’s exactly what we plan to do.


The Sacred Sounds of Christmas Concert

December 1, 2002, Benaroya Hall, Seattle
President Eaton greeted a capacity Benaroya Hall audience of 2,400 at SPU’s Advent choral and instrumental concert in downtown Seattle. The president reaffirmed Seattle Pacific’s commitment to bring the finest in sacred music to the heart of the Seattle community.

West Seattle Rotary Club
December 3, 2002, West Seattle President Eaton addressed the West Seattle Rotarians on the subject of character and leadership.

SPRINT Team Trip
December 16–20, 2002, Jackson, Mississippi
SPU’s efforts to engage the culture include student SPRINT (Seattle Pacific Reachout International) teams, which travel to locations throughout the world for short-term mission projects. During Christmas break, President Eaton joined a SPRINT team in Jackson, Mississippi. The group’s itinerary had both educational and service components. Students learned about the work of the John Perkins Foundation in Jackson and nearby Mendenhall, Mississippi,
Perkins (front center) and Eaton (front right) with the Jackson SPRINT team
seeing firsthand the poverty of the rural communities and the lingering evidence of racial barriers. In addition, the group helped finish construction of a Perkins Foundation house so that one fortunate family could move in before Christmas. Another significant experience was a Bible study led by Perkins and attended by Eaton and the rest of the SPRINT team.

The students were appreciative that Eaton joined their group. As SPRINT team co-leaders Ruth Kuhnau and Jennifer McKee related in an e-mail message back to campus, “We just have to add how much fun we had with Dr. Eaton. Not only did he pray and discuss things with us, he laughed and danced with us as well.” After putting Eaton on a plane home, the students concluded, “It was sad to say goodbye.”

Seattle Rotary Club
January 8, 2003, Seattle
President Eaton offered the invocation at a meeting of the 715-member Seattle Rotary Club, the second largest Rotary Club in the world.

Regional Events
January 21, 2003, San Diego, California; January 22, 2003, Industry Hills, California; and January 23, 2003, Orange County, California

Regional events featuring President Eaton begin with three locations in Southern California. At each venue, Eaton addresses alumni, prospective students and their parents, friends and local community leaders about the University’s vision and the ways in which The Campaign for SPU will make implementation of the vision possible.

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Homecoming 2003!

On Homecoming weekend, SPU’s campus lights up with music, theatre, high-flying hoops, the Talent Show and much-anticipated class reunions. [Campus]

An SPU Icon
Danna Wilder Davis completed what few others ever did at Seattle Pacific: Between 1924 and 1939, she went from first grade to college graduation in consecutive years on campus. [Alumni]

Vocation, Vocation, Vocation
Three faculty-led initiatives received SPU’s 2002-2003 Faculty Grants for Theology and Vocation. The grants support projects that weave vocational themes into the curriculum. [Faculty]

Falcon Legends Hall of Fame
Six Falcon athletes become the inaugural group inducted into the Falcon Legends Hall of Fame. Their athletic success and character make them legendary individuals in Falcon sports history. [Athletics]

My Response
“I’m the father of an AIDS orphan,” says Tim Dearborn, dean of the chapel at SPU, as he recounts his teenage daughter’s trip to Uganda. There she visited an AIDS orphan sponsored by the Dearborn family.