State of the University Address 2000 Audio version
Get It Done
Opening Remarks. This is always a special moment of gathering for me: all of our people in one place for worship, for talk about who we are, what's going on, and where we are headed. I want to thank Tim Dearborn for organizing and leading the worship service; to Jill Haarsma for being the detail person; to Char Summers for being the point person for so many of our opening events. We gather here with our distinguished faculty, our loyal and dedicated staff, our student leaders, our alumni council members, and a number of our trustees. Welcome to all of you for the beginning of the 2000-2001 year. I will be recognizing a lot of people throughout this address, but I want to say a special thanks to my Cabinet (Marj Johnson, Bruce Murphy, Don Mortenson, Bob McIntosh), my wife Sharon, to our trustees present this morning, and Karen Jacobson. I want to say special thanks to the academic deans. A special welcome to Derrick Woodward and the student leaders. I want to recognize Kathleen Braden, now beginning her second year as Dean of Student Life-what an outstanding job. And Tim Dearborn for his fine leadership as Dean of the Chapel.
Community. As you know by now, I believe in community. Gathering is important to me. The State of the University and the Opening Convocation are the two big times for us to gather as a community.
we will be a better institution if we continue to build community.
And yet I yearn still to make it happen. Let's keep working hard to be in community. Figure out how to give yourself to this place. You will be richer. And we will be richer.
Thanks to a lot of people. I have a great deal to say this morning. I want to tell you how the University looks from my point of view. I want to talk about some extraordinary things that are happening and as well the huge and wonderful challenges that lie ahead. I want you to know how I see our work, the big picture, the all-university view. I want you to care about these things. Your view and my view need to be congruent.
But I want to acknowledge also that each one of you is focused intensely on what you are doing, your special contribution, the preparations you are making for the year ahead. Some of you this morning are working on the last financial aid packages, making it possible for those last students to attend. Some of you are thinking about advising these new students well. Many of you are thinking about the new course you are preparing. Some of you are thinking about the final touches for an article you have written this summer. Those of you in the residence halls are eager and yet anxious to have the students move in. Some are thinking about the detail of the new building we have under way. Many of you are thinking about the fundraising strategies we have launched. Some of you are thinking about the last of our summer repairs and renovations to our physical plant. Some of you are thinking about how to win that next game on the soccer field or the volleyball court or the cross country course.
All of this adds up to a community of very gifted people, each doing an essential task, each making a contribution to the whole, each guided in the same direction by a common vision and purpose. This is a good thing.
I was talking to an alum yesterday, a prominent person, who began at SPU in 1959. He began telling me about how his life was changed here at SPU. Did he talk about the new buildings, new funding strategies, new programs? No, he talked about a conversation in a faculty office that changed the course of his life. He talked about a chapel sermon that impacted what he chose to do in life. He talked about the bringing of genuine piety he could respect with high level learning. He talked about a staff person that was a model of kindness for him.
And so as we begin this year, God bless each one of you. You are the people who make it happen. I want to support you. I want to recognize you along the way. I want to thank you for what you do.
The slow back-swing. What a year lies ahead. I am calling this a year to get it done. This is the year to roll up our sleeves. We know what our targets are. We know what our vision is. We have done our planning. Now it is time to get it done.
Marj Johnson shared with me this summer a series of articles from Fast Company talking about the need for companies to have ideas, no question about it, but the need as well to invest energy in getting those ideas executed. This hit Marj, and hit me, just at the right moment. At some moment in the life of any organization, its leaders need to pause from the planning and pause with the talking, and roll up the sleeves and get it done.
This is just where we are.
I have a metaphor I want to submit for our year ahead. I played a little golf this summer (my golfing buddies will like this metaphor, the rest of you may not get it). Bob Nuber, one of our board members, said to me one day, pull the club back slowly. Keep the back-swing slow. One of the great mysteries in life is the golf swing. But once the slow back-swing gets everything aligned, then we come through with great speed. Rip it. Bruce Murphy knows how to do this. Don Mortenson is challenging everyone. They tell me Frank Spina has matured as a golfer.
The slow back-swing gets everything aligned with vision. This is the year to swing away, the year to get things done. But let's make sure that the back-swing is slow. By the way, we may hit the trees from time to time. We might even have to hunt for the ball in the bushes. But that should not impede our swing. The worst thing we could do is to get tentative. We will swing with great force. And we will hit the fairway most of the time. We will get it done. But remember, keep the back-swing slow.
My Expectations for 2000-2001. Let me say some things about my expectations for the year. Come June 2001, what will a good year look like?
This is big list, but it is not a laundry list. This is a very considered list of what is on the plate. Cabinet members have assignments for all of these tasks. I am asking them to focus their energies in these ways. I will be submitting this list to the Chairman of the Board and to my performance evaluation committee. I ask each one of you to focus your energies around these issues as well.
Eight Significant Areas of Focus for the Year.
1. Vision work. I will continue with new energy to lift up vision. I am committed to becoming even more a teaching leader on vision. I am being asked to speak. People are writing me all the time from around the country. I am doing some writing: Op-ed this morning; Soapbox. My job is to lift up vision. It is the job of every leader. It is the job of each one of us. We must lift up our vision.
Our vision is strong; it is clear and compelling. Grounding everything we do on the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ. Engaging the culture/changing the world. Competence, character, wisdom, and grace-filled community-these are our operative values.
I would like to ask this question of each of you: what will you do to align your work to the vision? How is Jesus Christ at the center of all you do? How are you participating in engaging the culture/changing the world? How are you contributing to competence, character, wisdom, and grace-filled community?
University Relations summer retreat asked the question: what does it mean to engage the culture? Student Life and Campus Ministries joint retreat asked the question: what is grace-filled community, how can we contribute, how can we covenant together to be grace-filled? Faculty Retreat this year asked the question: what does it mean to be a worshiping, grace-filled community? This is the kind of work we need to continue to do.
We will stay steady with the vision. It will evolve, deepen, grow-but we need to keep it out in front of us to guide our decisions and direction.
2. The Campaign. This is a major focus for our work in the coming year. We are still in the quiet phase of our campaign. When you add up all of the contributions, the pledges, and the expected annual giving over the next five years, we stand at close to $25 million of our original $50 million goal in this quiet phase of the campaign. We have some $20 million in asks on the table right now. The Board of Trustees stepped up to the campaign at eight times the level of giving than ever before. We are forming a new leadership team (I am excited that Bruce Walker, one of our trustees, has accepted the role of the new chair). Bob McIntosh has built a strong advancement team. Our new strategic work, at this seam point in the campaign, is to broaden the base of leadership to carry the ball with us. I would like to see us have two endowed chairs and two major, lead gifts by the end of this academic year in addition to all of the smaller gifts that will accumulate through the year.
3. Positioning. I want to press forward with positioning. I believe it is critical to our success. Much has been done, much is in the works, much is yet to be done. A clear plan and strategy will be in place this year. Branding will begin to emerge. The vision language must be out there. Strong external visibility. Just as strong internal self image (this is the Dave Winter syndrome). We will break new ground here in the coming year. Watch for a significant new marketing effort in national Christian publications this year on alums who are engaging the culture. Commendations to Marj Johnson, Ken Cornell, John Glancy and the rest of the team. This is indeed a year to roll up our sleeves on the positioning front.
4. Board leadership, development, cultivation. This is a major new focus for me in the coming year. I am so grateful to our board. They are just extraordinary in their support, their willingness to take some risks, their desire to understand our vision, their hard work. We will be electing a new chair for the Board that will bring a new era for the Board (our goal is to elect by the November meeting so that there can be overlap). Steve Anderson has been such a good leader, companion, supporter, and friend to me, but his term expires. We must continue to work on building and developing a great board. We must have a Board of Trustees that is completely in tune with our vision and with the level of our expectations and we are making great progress.
5. Technology. This coming year will be the beginning of a new chapter for technology. With all of the great leadership, and all of the great work in this area, I believe we need to have top-level discussions on our philosophy, strategy, and funding for technology. I want to commend Don Mortenson, Dave Tindall, David Wicks, and so many others for serving us so well. But I want us to be on the leading edge of all Christian colleges and universities in the country, and this will take focus and clarity of direction. I do not think we have a choice. We will need to break new ground for administrative use of technology but most importantly in the academic use of technology. How can we be assisted even more in the learning process and for research and scholarship? I will need strong leadership from the Cabinet as we launch these discussions.
6. R& D. I will be looking for some real results here. I think it is critical for an urban university of our size to be on the cutting edge of exploration on delivery systems and new markets. In some of our areas there is no need for change. But in many of our areas, we must be responsive to a changing world or we will not remain competitive. I don't know where all of this is going, but we better be tuned in. We have to develop the instincts, the systems of support, the leadership, the attentiveness to opportunity. As most of you know, I have assigned Marj Johnson to make sure that all of the support systems-budget systems, startup funding, market analysis, enrollment projections, and marketing-are in place to support our program managers. We need everyone tuned in to what our goals are here. Five years: $2.5 million new net revenue. New revenue streams by the end of the year and a growing culture of exploration. I am aware of some of the discussion and the push-back in this area. We are not here changing the direction of the University, but we must ensure that some of our innovative ideas get the proper support and that we are developing responsible income. This is one where we need to roll up our sleeves.
7. A Five-Year Academic Plan. I want to see this year a strategic plan for the Education Plan over a five-year period, including priorities, funding plans, budget realignment, staffing needs, and fundraising needs. I know that the Provost, the deans, and the faculty have been working on this. This plan will be congruent with the vision, guided by our academic leadership, and understood and supported by the President and the President's Cabinet. We must get a strong, viable plan in place, one that we all support and work hard to accomplish.
8. Our Facilities Plan. Our Masterplan has been approved! With our new bond financing funding, we will finish the Emerson Residence Hall, begin the Science Building, and begin the renovation of Marston and MSLC. Tax exempt, state sponsored bond financing is a dramatic, historic new tool for investing in the vision of this place. This is bricks and mortar investment, but it must be seen as a major investment tool for our vision. This is a major development. My thanks to Don Mortenson, Craig Kispert, Darrell Hines, Dave Church, Wayne Elling, and all the rest of this team. My thanks also to Fred Safstrom, the Chair of our Finance and Facilities Committee, for his contribution and help, and to our trustees who deliberated with us each step of the way, both on the facilities plan and the funding.
Top Specific Initiatives.
These areas are on the table, launched, but need our support in their early stages.
1. New Schools Of Theology And Psychology, Family, and Community. I would like to see a significant launching of these two new schools, initiatives that will develop these programs into premier, national schools. We will need to build and clarify vision, provide support to the two new deans (Les Steele and Nathan Brown), provide positioning, and determine needed resources. I am thrilled by the development of these new schools.
2. The Common Curriculum. I want to encourage and support continued refinement of this great program. A premier, national core program. This is the heart of our undergraduate curriculum. We need to take stock on where we are and what refinements are now necessary. We have invested heavily in this program and what a program it is. Now we need to ensure that we see it towards its best conclusions. I am deeply grateful to Joyce Erickson for her superb leadership all along the way and so many others who have invested in this program. This has been outstanding work. I will ask the Provost to commission Cindy Price as the point person, along with the two deans responsible for most of the curriculum, Les Steele and Joyce Erickson, to bring a report to me sometime in the year on what changes might be needed. Let's take stock to make this program superb.
3. National Profile For Our School Of Business. Tremendous congratulations to our School of Business for the AACSB accreditation. Thanks to Alec Hill, Gary Carns, and all the faculty who gave leadership and input for this process. This is a group of people who stepped up. Now, I would like to see us develop this school into the national Christian business school and experience the growth and strengthening commensurate to our new status.
4. New Vision And A New Plan For The Computer Science Department. We cannot afford, given our environment, not to be one of the strongest computer science programs anywhere. We need to light a fire under this program, create a vision, locate the funding, and move forward. I will be calling on the academic leadership and the leadership of this department to move forward this year with new planning. Our thanks to Mike Tindall and all of the other faculty for their good work. We would like now to invest to take them to the next level.
5. Support For Our Scholars. I want to give presidential sponsorship to a new lifting up of our scholars and intellectuals to be even more effective as culture-shapers. I don't exactly know what this means but I will be working with the academic leaders to provide new presidential direction and support in this area. Let's make the Center for the Scholarship of Wisdom a meaningful reality. My thanks to Bruce Murphy and Susan Gallagher for their strong work along the way to support our faculty development in this area. But we want to take some real steps this year.
6. Building the endowment. We will continue to give strong support and sponsorship for endowment growth, both endowment management and fundraising to increase endowment. The new donor advised fund is now approved by the IRS and soon will be operative and marketed. I would note the truly extraordinary work of Don Mortenson, Gordie Nygaard, and our Foundation Board. We stand about $75 million in assets under management. This comes with good work from our fundraisers, our managers, our investment team, and our Foundation Board. This is a crucial area for our strength in the future. As you know, by the end of the campaign, we want this number to be at $100 million and we are well on our way.
7. Women's soccer. We will launch a first-rate new program, in our great soccer tradition. This was a must-do. Thanks to Tom Box for his leadership in the athletic area, to the Teel family for start-up funds, and for the legendary Cliff McGrath for his great tradition. This is a decision and a commitment to treat our women with respect by providing a program much in demand.
8. Faculty/Staff Compensation. Commensurate to our aspiration to be a premier, national Christian university, we must pay our people well and support them with good benefits. I think we are making great progress, but we will not take the pressure off ourselves. We have to have the faculty compensation plan completed before we set salaries for next year (you may remember I said this last year). We will seek further refinements and communication on our staff compensation program. We must continue to invest in our people. You are our prized assets, above all others. You need and deserve good, clear direction. You need to have a sense of where you fit into the whole, how your piece of our work contributes to the vision. And you need to be compensated well.
9. Budget management. We have the finest and most sophisticated budget management anywhere, but we need to take the next steps now to empower especially the deans to use their budgets to accomplish their plans. Budget management needs to get even stronger. Good information must be provided. Budget managers must be well trained and they must be held accountable. We've got to clean up and make more responsive especially the budget management in the academic area.
10. Worshiping Community. We need to give our Dean of the Chapel the kind of support necessary to succeed in his passionate desire to lead us in the area of worship. What is success? What is chapel? What is community? What is worship? These are the things he is wrestling with, and I want to support him in all ways as we refine, innovate, and reflect on how best to accomplish something new and fresh in our efforts to know how to worship.
Funding the Vision. I want to say two things.
1. The new conceptual strategy for funding our vision is this:
2. But I also want to recognize something else: while all of this is going on at the macro level, with the big numbers and the big strategies, sometimes it does not get translated into the needs and concerns at the micro level. We must find the way for our deans and area managers, first to know what their needs are, secondly to know how to realign their budgets, and thirdly to know how to bring those needs to the budget process in a healthy and credible way. The requests from each area have to have the credibility of good managers and good process, but we need to build a new and responsive system of funding for the micro issues. We will roll up our sleeves to ensure that you are not being nickel-and-dimed and that you are receiving the proper resources and support to do your job.
Four Areas of Personal Focus for the President. In addition to the areas above, I will give sponsorship and guidance to four presidential initiatives. Each of these tasks appears in CP21. I am not off on some new tangent, but rather simply lifting these up for new emphasis. I will be calling on the expertise and leadership from across the campus to help me get these things done.
Engaging the Culture/Changing the World: So What's Going On? What are some of the things our people are accomplishing at the moment? There are some extraordinary things going on in this place. In presenting these recognitions, I risk leaving some out. I hope you will help me know what I have left out. But here is a campus that is truly engaging the culture/changing the world.
My Role As President. This will begin my fifth year as president of SPU. I have been here for seven. According to the national averages I am becoming a senior president. It may be time to go.
But I want you to know I feel we are just getting started.
Let me tell you why I am here for some time to come. I am devoted with great passion to three things: 1) bringing God's flourishing grace into the world; 2) lifting up our vision to engage the culture and make a real difference both as an individual and as an institution; and 3) contributing to grace-filled community for the sake of our people here at SPU. Christ's kingdom, vision, and our people-that's where my focus will always be. And we've got a long ways to go before we realize both our vision and our grace-filled community.
For 35 years I have been directly involved in Christian higher education, as a student, faculty member, parent, board member, and president. And I believe we have a special opportunity in this place at this time to build something really new in Christian higher education.
I am a builder. I have learned that about myself. For better or worse that's the kind of president you have. I want to create something new here. Another president might sit tight on what we have, rest on our laurels, which are many. But that is not me. This way of living and leading requires some real risk-taking and receives some criticism along the way. I am ready for that.
Let me add this. To be a builder, to be this kind of leader, requires vision. That's why I work so hard on vision.
And vision is grounded on ideas. I need to think, reflect, and write. Help me know how to do that. Give me some space. Help me know what to read, who to hear, how to listen, what to write, where to speak.
And then, go with me as we build. Roll up your sleeves with me. Let's create and build something new.
Guiding Texts. To conclude, let me share one of my guiding texts for the year with you. My texts this year are all about Jesus Christ, as you will hear in the Convocation address, and they are about bearing witness to hope in the world.
"My aim," says Paul, "is to keep them in good heart and united in love, so that they may come to the full wealth of conviction which understanding brings, and grasp God's secret, which is Christ himself, in whom lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Colossians 2:2
God bless each one of you. Thank you for your good work. Thank you for caring deeply about our work together. I wish you all the best in the year ahead.
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