Our Traditions

Ivy Cutting

New Student Convocation

New Student Convocation has its roots in a 1932 convocation where new students and faculty gathered to celebrate the opportunities and challenges of a new academic year. Today’s New Student Convocation has a similar thrust, with faculty, family, and friends gathering in Royal Brougham Pavilion prior to the beginning of the academic year to support new students as they embark on their SPU journey.

Opening Convocation

Opening Convocation includes the entire SPU community gathering to welcome new and returning students at the start of each academic year. The SPU president challenges the audience to embrace the opportunities ahead in the coming year.

Day of Common Learning

The Day of Common Learning began in 2002 and is a campus in-service day during which faculty, staff, and students participate together in a learning community outside the regular classrooms — a morning keynote address and afternoon seminars led by faculty, students, staff, and outside experts. Both the morning address and afternoon seminars explore the year’s topic.

Christian Faith Exploration

Community worship, concerts, presentations on special topics, and evensong services are all part of Seattle Pacific University’s extensive Christian Faith Exploration program. Evensong is Monday evenings; Chapels — featuring a variety of leading Christian speakers — are Tuesdays; the student-led service, group is on Wednesday nights; forums are on Thursdays; and cadres/small groups typically meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays.


Begun in the late 1980s, Tradition is a campus and communitywide event that takes place in Tiffany Loop during the first week of December. In addition to the Christmas-tree lighting, activities include carol singing, sleigh rides, readings of the Christmas story, and other traditions to focus attention on the season of Christ’s birth.


The first official Seattle Pacific “Homecoming” was instituted in 1935 at the school’s 42nd Commencement. Since then, Homecoming has moved to early Winter Quarter, separated from graduation weekend. Class reunions, athletic events, drama and music productions, a student talent show, and a variety of other gatherings between alumni, students, faculty, and staff make this weekend a highlight on the University yearly calendar.

Ivy Cutting

Ivy Cutting has been a part of spring graduation rites since 1922, when the first Ivy Planting ceremony was introduced. Now, more than 90 years later, graduates participate in an Ivy Cutting ceremony where each senior receives a cutting from a long, connected ring of ivy. The ceremony symbolizes the senior’s tie to the University and its many alumni, as well as a newfound independence that comes with becoming a graduate.

Graduate Hooding Ceremony

Master’s degree recipients are invited to participate in the Hooding Ceremony prior to the Graduate Commencement ceremony. Master’s students are recognized for the completion of their advance degrees and are hooded by their school dean and the graduate faculty. Doctoral students are hooded during Graduate Commencement.

Graduate Commencement

A distinct Graduate Commencement Ceremony was introduced in 2014, and designed specifically to honor SPU’s graduate students. It occurs on the afternoon following Ivy Cutting, and graduates process into Tiffany Loop for the ceremony. Graduate degrees are awarded to master’s and doctoral students who have successfully completed the requirements to obtain their graduate diplomas.

Undergraduate Commencement

Commencement is a time-honored ceremony that recognizes the scholarship, service, and Christian growth of graduating seniors. It is a celebratory service, where students, faculty, staff, parents, relatives, and friends congratulate the graduates on their “new beginning.” Degrees are awarded to undergraduate students who have successfully completed the requirements to obtain their baccalaureate diplomas. The number of SPU graduates has grown from five in 1915 to more than 800 in recent years.

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Our Presidents

Deana L. Porterfield, EdD

Daniel J. Martin, JD, EdD

Philip W. Eaton, PhD

E. Arthur Self, PhD

Curtis A. Martin, PhD

David C. Le Shana, PhD

David L. McKenna, PhD

C. Dorr Demaray, LittD

C. Hoyt Watson, LittD

Orrin E. Tiffany, PhD

Alexander A. Beers, MA