Since its founding in 1891 as Seattle Seminary, transition to Seattle Pacific College in 1915, and rebranding as Seattle Pacific University (SPU) in 1977, throughout its 131-year history, SPU has remained committed to delivering world-class Christ-centered education grounded in the liberal arts to prepare its graduates for a life of service.
With recent debates that have affected SPU collectively and its students, staff, faculty, alumni, and extended community members, SPU’s Board has worked to articulate a vision meeting the University’s contemporary needs and aspirations while honoring its history, mission, and legacy.
As the University’s foundational robust Christ-centered educational identity endures in the next chapter of its history, the Board has identified seven interrelated enduring commitments that will intentionally, strategically, and sustainably shape decisions and actions and determine resource allocations. After reviewing existing documents, completing previous work on strategic planning, collecting input from the Senior Leadership Team, the Academic Leadership Team, and numerous staff and faculty, and engaging in dialogue among these key audiences, the Board believes the combination of the commitments listed below uniquely reflects SPU’s strengths and provides meaningful guidance for its future.
1. Commitment to Christian Faith
Seattle Pacific University is a Christian university grounded in the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ, committed to the evangelical proclamation of God’s good news to the world, anchored to historic Christian orthodoxy, guided by its Wesleyan heritage, and honoring its ecumenical diversity for the spiritual formation of all who make up its community, whatever their background or faith tradition.
SPU’s Christian faith commitments are not just its historical foundation. They continue to shape its current work and future planning. The University’s faith statement eloquently states its orthodox credal beliefs, its evangelical joy in sharing the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and its commitment to the global Church. Aligned with its Wesleyan tradition, the Statement of Faith is meant to secure both SPU’s commitment to and freedom in Christ. To that end, SPU honors the reflection of God’s Church in its ecumenical diversity, welcoming faculty and staff from a wide range of Christian traditions.
SPU will continue to be a vibrant Christian university where faith in a living God permeates and animates desires, decisions, and daily activities. The SPU community, in all its diversity, is rooted in respect for the Institution’s Christian, Wesleyan, and Free Methodist faith commitments, which are communicated clearly to numerous staff and faculty past, present, and future community members. Students who come to SPU without a Christian faith or tradition are respected, introduced to, and engaged with the Christian faith and leave with a deeper understanding of Christianity. Campus leadership invests in the spiritual formation of faculty, staff, and students with the hope that all students welcome and embrace the Christian faith as a result of their participation in the SPU campus community.
2. Commitment to Educational Breadth and Scholarly Depth
Seattle Pacific University is committed to rigor and equity in every aspect of learning, teaching, scholarship, and student development, and the importance of its liberal arts core to support these goals. The University’s Christian faith commitments permeate the curriculum and classroom and animate scholarship as an act of vocation.
SPU continues to affirm its robust educational commitments, which have made it a vibrant intellectual community. Prospective graduate and undergraduate students are drawn to SPU for its academic reputation, diversity of thought, nuance, and rigorous learning. Recognizing the imago Dei in each person, SPU emphasizes its priority to work with every student to achieve their intellectual potential and educational aspirations. SPU recruits Christian faculty who are attracted to the University’s academic reputation, its support for its faculty, and its Christian convictions. Faculty are at the forefront of educational innovation. The University prioritizes educational breadth, and the faculty and students have a shared meaning of the liberal arts and their importance to a holistic and transformative education.
Each department consciously works through its curriculum to communicate points of connection with the Christian faith so that students are able to articulate how their education has deepened their spiritual commitments; non-Christian students are exposed to the Christian faith through direct instruction and interaction with faculty who model and embody the truths, virtues, and life of Jesus.
Faculty and student scholarship are supported and celebrated. Faculty are thought leaders in discussions related to faith within their fields and are sought out for their expertise. As an institution of higher learning within the evangelical Christian tradition, SPU respects the Academy‘s dedication to the free search for truth and its free expression. This pursuit is an obligation of Christian teacher-scholars and accords with SPU’s acceptance of the Christian scriptures and the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, as authoritative in matters of faith, morality, practice, and learning.
3. Commitment to Character Formation
Believing that God’s redemptive purpose encompasses all of humanity in the created world and in historic continuity with the Wesleyan belief that knowledge is crucial to vital piety, Seattle Pacific University is committed to holistic and transformative education that shapes character and initiates students on a lifelong journey to wisdom.
The goals of a holistic and transformative education are meant to guide students toward the ability to judge truths, warrant beliefs, and understand differences of opinion with compassionate and winsome conviction. Faculty development programming incorporates critical thinking, character shaping, virtue, and wisdom. Departmental curricula are designed with “character” milestones and appropriate learning outcomes throughout general education and major coursework. Students are taught and mentored with the centrality of character formation in mind so that graduates can make wise decisions and act courageously from a place of vulnerability to meet the world’s needs. This is foundational to the Seattle Pacific University mission to graduate “people of competence and character.”
4. Commitment to Vocational Preparation
Through intentional vocational discernment, Seattle Pacific University is committed to preparing students for meaningful and purposeful lives of service and leadership in the work of God’s kingdom in the church, home, employment, neighborhood, and other communities in which its members serve.
SPU recognizes that God’s call is a lifelong journey of discernment for students and employees and, to quote Eugene Peterson, “a long obedience in the same direction.” Vocation is more than career preparation; it is an integrated curricular and co-curricular whole-person approach to a transformative and holistic education embedded in “Falcon Formation.”
Students can articulate the theological meanings of vocation, shalom, and justice aligned with a sense of calling. They engage in learning opportunities that prepare them for lifelong service. Christian students are prepared to live out their faith in all life realms.
Graduates are recognized and visible in local communities as God-honoring leaders and compassionate servants. All students are prepared to live lives of integrity. They are highly regarded potential employees given their opportunities on and off campus to develop as servant leaders.
The University also intentionally invests in developing a sense of calling for its employees, providing opportunities for robust organizational socialization, spiritual formation, and individual professional development.
5. Commitment to a Christ-Centered Caring Community
Seattle Pacific University is committed to a Christ-centered and caring community that seeks God’s shalom, reconciliation, and justice for all its members and for those with whom they interact and serve. It is committed to fostering a diverse and culturally responsive campus where all feel a sense of belonging. As a unique expression of the Body of Christ, SPU strives to be a community willing to listen to one another other, engage differences, tolerate disagreement, and speak truth in love.
SPU is an intentionally diverse, urban, Christian university that reflects the demographics of the city, region, and the Pacific Rim. The University intentionally recruits and welcomes students from a wide range of Christian faith traditions, students with little or no faith, and students of other faiths. From a posture of humility, SPU engages the complexities and tensions of its cultural and theological diversity and welcoming enrollment philosophy.
The University is committed to the academic success of all its students, both undergraduate and graduate, and creates curricular and co-curricular programs that develop all students to their fullest potential. Academic programs are designed with its diverse students in mind while anticipating the needs of students in the future. The University is intentional about recruiting, equipping, and retaining a diverse faculty, staff, and administration to teach and serve its diverse students.
SPU is committed to diversity, racial justice, and the work of reconciliation grounded in the gospel of Jesus Christ and as an expression of its Free Methodist values and practices. The University affirms the dignity of, and demonstrates the love of God for, all people. SPU is called by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be a just, equitable, and reconciled community that works toward right relationships between God and humanity, and between communities (2 Corinthians 5:16–21).
6. Commitment to the World Beyond SPU
Located in the vibrant and global city of Seattle, Seattle Pacific University is committed to investing in its urban setting and international perspectives, fostering learning, innovation, and service beyond its classroom walls, including the global Church.
Seattle is a robust and diverse global city that offers students, faculty, and staff opportunities to contribute to its economic, social, cultural, artistic, and spiritual vitality. As a Christian university, we are inspired by the call for God’s people to care for the welfare of the city (Jeremiah 29:7) and the interconnectedness of people, which transcends nation-states. SPU continues its commitment to the greater Seattle area. It is a model for neighborhood and community partnership, addressing issues of poverty, wellness, education, family health, and the unhoused. The University communicates how its Christian faith commitments motivate its community involvement.
SPU engages with community and business leaders, building and strengthening relationships to create mutually beneficial partnerships. The University attracts top thought leaders to campus, including those who bring a Christian perspective to important and timely topics. SPU convenes community, religious, and business leaders in the Seattle community and globally to generate discussion, innovation, and mutual learning about complex societal issues. It raises funds for faculty, staff, and students to ethically and reciprocally partner with businesses, nonprofits, public agencies, and churches committed to the welfare of the greater Seattle area.
Moreover, as a theologically diverse university rooted in the Wesleyan tradition, SPU believes that God is the God of nations (Acts 17:24–28). As part of the global church, we are called to humble and reciprocal learning about the experiences of different cultures, nations, and regions of the world. Thus, the University can serve as a witness to God’s Kingdom in the region and across the globe.
7. Commitment to Institutional Integrity
Seattle Pacific University is committed to institutional integrity, aligning significant decisions, actions, and budgetary commitments to the University’s Christian mission and vision. SPU clearly articulates its identity to those in and outside the campus community. Working through shared governance, the University follows through on its major commitments, explaining rationales for its undertaking.
SPU is known and respected for its institutional integrity. Leadership is transparent and committed to organizational sustainability, and its budget is carefully stewarded. It invests in faculty, staff, and facilities, ensuring reasonable employee workload and extra-role expectations. SPU is committed to just pay (e.g., equitable and livable wages) for its employees. SPU is committed to institutional assessment and data-informed decision-making to ensure equitable treatment and outcomes.
Sustainability efforts are highlighted throughout the campus. Creation care is incorporated into the curriculum, co-curricular activities, and facilities management. University budgeting takes into consideration sustainability initiatives.