President Martin announces resignation

Seattle Pacific University President Daniel J. Martin announced today that he will resign his position effective April 5, 2021. Martin served as president for nine years, and is only the 10th president in SPU’s 130-year history.

In an email statement to the SPU community, Martin said, “I have decided it is the right time to transition from my role as president of Seattle Pacific University. Following this resignation, I accepted an offer to serve in a leadership role at a healthcare foundation for a national health system. The nature of the role and the healthcare system’s expectations that I begin before the end of April will require me to transition prior to the conclusion of the academic year.”

Martin also cited several personal reasons for the resignation, noting the deaths of his father and sister last year and desire to be closer to his family in the Midwest. 

“As I journeyed with them through their battles with Alzheimer’s and cancer, I am grateful the focus for the next chapter in my professional calling will be empowering and resourcing others who face similar critical health concerns. I am also grateful as the foundation I will serve is close to my hometown and family; especially near to my mother and my sister’s family,” he said in the statement. 

SPU Board of Trustees Chair Cedric Davis said in a statement to the SPU community,“Though we are saddened to learn of President Martin’s planned departure to pursue a new chapter in his life, we are also indebted to his remarkable and dedicated leadership over the past nine years of service as president of our beloved SPU.” Martin will serve as a resource during the leadership transition.

For more than a year, Martin has overseen the transition to virtual learning and remote operations as SPU became one of the first universities in the country to cancel in-person classes due to the pandemic. Last month he announced the decision to return to in-person instruction for autumn 2021.

Since taking office in 2012, Martin has become known as a strategic planner, seasoned fundraiser, and a “student’s president,” famous for knowing students by name and a regular presence at hundreds of student events and athletic competitions each year. “Some of the most enjoyable aspects of serving at SPU has been experiencing this dynamic campus and engaging with our students,” Martin said in his statement. He also reflected on the tragic campus shooting in June 2014. “During those days, our community came together and leaned into our faith in Christ in remarkable, supportive ways — even in the face of grief and trauma. This was a glimpse into our community’s core identity as people of faith that I will always remember.”

Martin initiated a strategic planning process with specific goals to maintain excellence in SPU’s core identity and to position the university for the future. The university has been ranked a “Best National University” by U.S News & World Report for the past five years. A successful launch in autumn 2020 of a “Tuition Reimagined” campaign reduced the tuition rate by 25%, offered new scholarship initiatives, and capped future tuition increases.

Martin not only led the $6 million fundraising effort to restore and retrofit Alexander Hall, the university’s oldest building named after SPU’s first president, but also changed the building’s name to reflect the contributions of the first president’s wife, Adelaide Beers. The building is now named Alexander and Adelaide Hall. The university has marked several financial milestones under his leadership, including the largest year for fundraising (fiscal 2019), and top tier nationwide rankings for endowment investments (the endowment has more than tripled during his presidency to a current value of more than $137 million).

In 2015, he launched the Committee on Homelessness to keep one of Seattle’s most pressing issues in front of the SPU community and after a second short-term visit by Tent City 3, a portable, self-managed community of people experiencing homelessness. SPU welcomed the community back to campus for a third time in 2017. 

During his tenure he expanded the leadership team to include a new vice president of inclusive excellence to lead the university’s diversity efforts, celebrated the university’s 125th anniversary, and oversaw construction of a new residence hall, state-of-the-art health sciences building, and music performance and rehearsal studio.  

Before coming to SPU, President Martin held various positions in higher education, including serving as president of Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Mount Vernon, Ohio, and vice president for university advancement at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California.

Founded in 1891, Seattle Pacific University is a premiere Christian university that equips people to engage the culture and change the world. SPU is one of the only private university in the Pacific Northwest to makes the 2021 U.S. News & World Report Best National Universities list. Its comprehensive academic programs serve more than 3,600 undergraduate and graduate students.

Posted: Tuesday, March 30, 2021