On November 20, 1998, the Seattle Pacific University Board of Trustees endorsed a Comprehensive Plan for the 21st Century. For the past 18 months, President Philip Eaton has led a broad-based planning effort involving trustees, faculty, students, staff, alumni and friends. The resulting plan, says Board Chair Steven Anderson, "takes bold new steps toward defining a premier national Christian university, in fact a new kind of Christian university. We are truly excited about this vision for the future."

At the heart of this strategic blueprint is a sharp focus on effective "engagement" with the community, the church and the world. Ultimately, the aim is for SPU to help deliver the hope of the Christian gospel to a culture gripped by what the plan describes as a "crisis of meaning." Among the bold features of the plan are eight new endowed professorships in multi- disciplinary areas that link faith and culture, an Urban Studies Center in Seattle's Central District, and an Applied Ethics Institute connecting all of SPU's graduate programs. Also included are proposals for new facilities such as a science building, chapel/concert hall, and fine arts center -- and specific targets for Seattle Pacific's enrollment and endowment in the next century. All of these features are anchored by a vision of "engaging the culture" and "changing the world."

Eaton emphasizes that success "depends upon SPU supporters saying 'yes' to the plan." For this reason, Response includes here an adaptation of the document that received the Board's affirmation this fall. Comments or questions about the plan are welcome and can be sent via e-mail to response@spu.edu or via regular mail to Response, Office of University Communications, Seattle Pacific University, 3307 Third Avenue West, Seattle, Washington, 98119.

Engaging the Culture/Changing the World

A Comprehensive Plan for the 21st Century

The following is an adaptation of the document written by President Philip Eaton and endorsed by the SPU Board of Trustees on November 20, 1998.

Our Vision
Everything begins with vision. Each action called for in this plan is strategically aligned with a new vision for engagement. We propose fresh new ways for Seattle Pacific University to be engaged in the work of our city, our church and the world: graduates who can lead the way toward meaningful change in our communities, scholarship that is relevant and compelling, a group of people modeling genuine community. We seek to be change-agents in a world that needs leadership and hope.

Transformation is the key to our new vision. We are in the business of transforming lives and seeking transformation in the world in which we live.

Building on the strong foundations of our 107-year history, continuing to cultivate a healthy partnership with our founding Free Methodist Church, determined to honor the vision and work of those who precede us -- we focus our sights now on making an even greater impact in the world and in our community for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Our Foundation
What is the foundation that anchors this new vision for engagement? What is the starting point from which all other assumptions are derived?

We ground everything we do on the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ. Our desire for change and influence, our call to service and leadership -- these all flow from a deeply shared belief that even here-now, in this fallen and troubled world, Jesus Christ transforms all of life. We believe in transformation.

We take very seriously the challenge of Romans 12 to "be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God -- what is good and acceptable and perfect." Our commitment to transformation is unwavering.

Three Core Outcomes
How then do we concretely support this vision? We seek three core outcomes to best enable us to achieve our vision for engagement:

We seek to graduate people of competence and character. We invest in academic excellence. We train our graduates for productive and successful careers. But we understand that competence alone is not enough. We have renewed our efforts to be even more effective in the formation of character.

We seek to become people of wisdom. We affirm the life of the mind. We insist that good and informed thinking is vital to the health of our community, the church and the world. Ideas matter and ideas create change. We support a culture of cutting-edge scholarship, scholarship that is profoundly relevant and helpful to the needs of our world. SPU should be a home for the voice of the contemporary Christian intellectual. We seek to shine the light of the gospel on the issues of our day.

We seek to model grace-filled community. We affirm that we may best fulfill our vision in genuine community. We believe our impact on the world around us comes in part by what we model as we go about our work. We are intentional about treating people with kindness, civility and respect. We conduct our business with good manners. We learn again and again how to understand failure and risk forgiveness. Collaboration is critical. It is our Christian joy and responsibility to honor the diversity of gifts that each person brings to our enterprise and to honor as well the cultural and ethnic diversity of all God's children.

A Course of Action
Our vision for engagement requires a carefully constructed plan of action. The Comprehensive Plan for the 21st Century was created from four distinct planning streams, each of them reaching toward the same vision of a new kind of Christian university. To fulfill the course of action outlined here, new resources and new facilities will be needed.

1. The Education Plan.
Well-focused programs and empowered people intent on effective engagement are the key components of our educational vision for the new century Seattle Pacific. We propose the following specific initiatives:

  • The Spiritual Formation Initiative. We call here for a new Dean of the Chapel to give leadership for spiritual formation on campus, a newly focused Religion Department that works in full collaboration with the Dean of the Chapel, continued support for our strong campus ministries and leadership programs, and a new chapel/concert hall that will anchor and house our vision for Christian spiritual formation at SPU.
  • The Undergraduate Distinctives Initiative: The Common Curriculum and University Scholars. To take the lead in educating undergraduate students for competence and character, we have designed the Common Curriculum, a cutting-edge core program launched in Autumn 1998, and the University Scholars, a distinctive honors program designed to serve students of exceptional academic ability.
  • The Graduate and Professional Studies Initiative. We will establish a new Dean of Graduate Studies to guide our graduate programs, create new degree programs for new markets, reach and renew secondary accreditation in selected programs, and establish an Applied Ethics Institute that links all of our graduate programs in their focus on applying Christian ethics to professional practice.
  • The Faculty and Staff Development Initiative. We propose one of the finest faculty and staff development programs in the country. We will enhance our ground-breaking New Faculty and New Staff Seminars, establish a Center for the Scholarship of Wisdom that emphasizes cutting-edge scholarship informed by Christian faith and relevant to the world's needs, and create eight new endowed chairs in various multi-disciplinary areas focused on engaging the culture.
  • The Science and Arts Initiative. SPU has unique opportunities to engage the culture in the realms of science and the arts. In the context of our location in a city at the forefront of scientific and artistic endeavor, we propose new facilities to support our commitment to the sciences and the arts. In addition, we will study new additions of faculty to ensure strength in those areas.
  • The Cross-Cultural Initiative. We envision co-curricular programs in the city and abroad, including a strengthening of our SPRINT (Seattle Pacific Reachout INTernational) program, the establishment of an Urban Studies Center in the Central District of Seattle, and enhanced programs on campus for the appreciation of ethnic differences.
  • The Learning and Technology Initiative. We will continue to seek the finest computer resources, create a well-defined learning center for students, enhance access to information through our library budget, and create a comprehensive training program in technology for all faculty and staff.
  • The Collaborative Learning Initiative. We will create an evaluation and reward system to ensure that each faculty and staff member utilizes his or her individual gifts to contribute to our stated goals. This effort will require new collaboration among individuals, departments, deans, and academic units. We also envision a fresh new commitment to collaboration between our academic programs and the co-curricular programs of student life.
  • New Opportunities and New Sources of Revenue. The Washington State Governor's 2020 Commission projects 100,000 new students in the state by the year 2020. We desire to play our part in serving the needs of the citizens of our region and state. We will therefore launch a research and development effort to explore new market opportunities and new ways of delivering education for the future. By tapping into these new markets, we will invest net revenues into our traditional programs.

2. The Facilities Plan.
We have concluded an extensive needs assessment and propose the following new facilities as the core of our master facilities plan:

  • New science facility.
  • New chapel/concert hall.
  • New fine and performing arts facility.
  • New classrooms with up-to-date technology.
  • New residence halls, parking facilities and offices to support improved student services.
A completely renovated Gwinn Dining Commons with a new banquet and gathering facility is scheduled for completion in September 1999.

3. The Enrollment Plan.
In establishing enrollment targets, we have focused on size, student profile and enrollment mix. We propose now the following goals for undergraduate enrollment (unless otherwise stated, these are five-year targets):

  • Carefully managed growth to 4,500 students in the next ten years.
  • Maintenance of a critical mass of students who identify with our Christian mission.
  • A moderately selective admissions policy, increased persistence (goal of 85%), and improved graduation rates (goal of 60%).
  • Continued commitment to affordability, being very attentive to our pricing and financial aid strategies.
  • Targeted enrollment strategies for such groups as ethnic minorities (goal of 15%), international students (goal of 6%) and male students (goal of 40%).

4. The Endowment Plan.
A healthy future for Seattle Pacific depends on a strong endowment, used primarily to assist our scholarship programs. Our goal is to increase our existing endowment of $24.5 million (as of June 30, 1998) to:

  • $50 million in five years.
  • $100 million in ten years.

Funding the Comprehensive Plan
We will fund the Comprehensive Plan for the 21st Century in five different ways:

  • A fund-raising campaign, the most aggressive fund- raising effort ever launched in the history of SPU.
  • Aligning the budget with the newly focused priorities of the Comprehensive Plan.
  • New sources of revenue.
  • New proceeds from endowment.
  • Appropriate levels of debt financing.

Compensation for Faculty and Staff
Commensurate to our commitment to being a premier national Christian university, we must compensate our people accordingly. We have called for new staff and faculty compensation plans to guide us for the future.

Positioning for Success
We will aggressively renew and increase our commitment to effective positioning. We are now preparing a marketing and positioning plan that will more effectively position SPU as a key player in higher education in the Puget Sound area and as a leader among Christian institutions nationally.

Our Promise
We make this promise: We will promote and empower engagement at Seattle Pacific University as we begin this new century. Separation, detachment or self-indulgence will never be our path at this Christian university. We exist to serve. We strive to make a difference. We step boldly and courageously into new territory of effective engagement.

We respond here to a profound crisis of meaning that grips our culture. We live in a world that is at once glorious, fascinating, rapidly changing, confused, destructive, at times terrifying. We want first to understand what gives shape to our world, to know and understand God's created world, to appreciate the fruits of culture: music, art, theater, poetry, film, literature. We affirm that such appreciation of culture is in itself one response to a crisis of meaning. But then our great hope is to make an impact, to create change, to give voice to a new language, to make a difference for good, indeed to address the crisis of meaning in a way that is helpful and transforming.

Lesslie Newbigin asks this question: "From whence comes the voice that can challenge this culture on its own terms, a voice that speaks its own language and yet confronts it with the authentic figure of the crucified and living Christ so that it is stopped in its tracks and turned back from the way of death?" As a premier Christian university doing our work in this dynamic world-class city of Seattle, we have an opportunity to be such a voice, a voice that both engages the culture and yet presents the way of transformation. As Seattle Pacific University moves into the 21st century, this is our unique challenge, our great responsibility, our extraordinary opportunity.

Please read our disclaimer. Send any questions, comments or correspondence about Response to jgilnett@spu.edu
or call 206-281-2051.
Copyright © 1999 University Communications, Seattle Pacific University.

Seattle Pacific University
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