Institutional Milestones


The diversity of SPU’s student body has reached 36 percent.

Seattle Pacific’s 125th anniversary celebration began at Commencement

At Commencement 2016, SPU began its 125th anniversary celebration, which continues throughout the academic year 2016–17. Attendees viewed a “through the decades” slideshow highlighting key moments in SPU history. In addition, President Daniel J. Martin introduced the celebration to graduates and their families.

SPU also launched a special 125th Anniversary website that features historical photos, 125th events, and other items related to the festivities.

On June 17–18, Seattle Pacific hosted the Pacific Northwest (Free Methodist) Conference Leadership Summit. This event presented a unique opportunity to honor the vital partnership between the PNWC and SPU.

On Friday, June 17, Free Methodist pastors and delegates around the Northwest joined with SPU officials in First Free Methodist Church for a worship celebration to commemorate the many ways that these two communities have supported and enriched each other for more than a century.

Stewart appointed new dean of SBGE

Professor of Accounting Ross Stewart, who has served the SPU campus community as a teacher and scholar for 30 years, began a new appointment as dean of the School of Business, Government, and Economics on April 1. Stewart served as interim dean for most of the 2015–16 school year.

Enrollment achievement and diversity

Autumn Quarter saw 4,175 students enrolled at Seattle Pacific (3,202 of them undergraduates). Students hailed from across the country and as far away as South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil. Of the 60 majors offered, the five most popular declared majors were psychology, nursing, business administration, political science, and physiology.

Brown becomes new director of CSFD

Margaret Brown has been appointed to serve as the new director of the Center for Scholarship and Faculty Development and assistant provost for special projects, beginning on June 1. For the past 14 years, Brown has served Seattle Pacific as a professor in the Department of Psychology; for seven of those years she was the department chair.

Institutional accreditation reaffirmed

Through the hard work of Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Cindy Price (and her team), with an able assist from Senior Vice President for Planning and Administration Don Mortenson, the University went through its year-seven accreditation visit. With several recommendations and commendations, the University was reaffirmed for accreditation through NWCCU (Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities). This result is a reflection of the strong work around assessment done in schools and departments across campus.

SPU ranked No. 2 for “Best Value”

Talon in front of an SPU billboard Seattle Pacific University ranked No. 2 in the category “Best Colleges — Best Value” in the West in U.S. News & World Report’s 2016 college rankings. U.S. News states that the calculation takes into account an institution’s academic quality, as indicated by its 2016 U.S. News Best Colleges ranking, and the 2014–15 net cost of attendance for a student who received the average level of need-based financial aid. The higher the quality of the program and lower the cost, the better the value, according to the magazine. Seattle Pacific also ranked No. 17 in the magazine’s “Best Regional University” category, which included institutions from Texas to Alaska that provide a full range of undergraduate and master’s programs, and limited doctoral programs.

Tangenberg named dean of SPFC

Katy Tangenberg is the new dean for the School of Psychology, Family, and Community. She earned her PhD in social welfare from the University of Washington and comes to SPU from Azusa Pacific University, where she served as director of the first-year student experience. In her tenured faculty role as professor of social work, Tangenberg also served as graduate department chair and program director — where she was responsible for developing APU’s master of social work program — and as associate dean of the School of Behavioral and Applied Sciences. She has rich experience in working with curriculum supervision, assessment, grant writing, and student life and campus ministries offices on academic and co-curricular integration. Tangenberg began her role as SPFC dean on July 1.

SPU honored with Executive’s Award for Community Preparedness

On September 3, 2015, SPU became the first university and fifth overall recipient of King County’s annual Executive’s Award for Community Preparedness. King County Executive Dow Constantine presented the award to Seattle Pacific to honor the University’s years of emergency planning. “President Martin and his staff have worked for many years to build a campuswide culture of preparedness, one dedicated to the safety of everyone who walks these halls.” He praised the University’s “whole community” approach to preparing for emergencies, saying SPU’s planning provides an example for others in the region to follow. President Dan Martin accepted the award on behalf of SPU’s Office of Safety and Security and other campus emergency planning and response groups. 

New Nickerson Studios: alive with the sound of music

Nickerson StudiosNickerson Studios, formerly home to a martial arts studio and marine equipment company, opened for Autumn Quarter, featuring the SPU music program’s first-ever campus performance space. It holds a recording studio, a music tech lab, two small ensemble rooms, a vocal studio, and a drum studio, along with faculty offices and a small rehearsal venue. The new choral and recital space seats around 100 listeners for small-group performances, and the room’s inconspicuous 24-channel recording system can capture every note.

President’s Award for Philanthropy to Becky Arnett Gilliam ’80

Becky Arnett Gilliam

Last fall, Becky Arnett Gilliam ’80 became the fifth recipient of SPU’s President’s Award for Philanthropy. In 2014, Gilliam, a successful investor and leader, committed $2.5 million — the University’s single largest current gift — to renovate Alexander Hall. “I couldn’t imagine a greater honor,” says Gilliam.

She credits her SPU education and residence hall experience, which nurtured her Christian faith and desire to learn, for her successes.

New job posting and networking tool: SPULink

The University launched SPULink, a new job posting and networking tool sponsored by Seattle Pacific’s Center for Career and Calling, the Office of Student Employment, the John Perkins Center, and the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations. SPULink connects students and alumni with individuals and organizations to streamline a host of career and vocation services, resources, and opportunities.

CBTE launches new program in Christian social entrepreneurship

A “social entrepreneur” is an organization or a person whose main goal is to improve society, not bring in business profit. SPU’s Center for Biblical and Theological Education has launched a program in Christian social entrepreneurship that aims to equip church and parachurch leaders with business and theological principles to pursue social good in an economically sustainable way. “We’re hoping to meet a need for those in the church who realize that the way we do church needs to change, and to give them a comprehensive vision for what a holistic approach to ‘business as mission’ might look like,” says Program Director Matt Sigler. Students in SPU’s program spent two weeks on campus during the summer of 2016 learning business and theological principles. As the new entrepreneurs return to their home communities, SPU-affiliated mentors support them for a year while they develop business plans, with the goal of spreading faith-based social change.

Leaders gather to brainstorm methods of transforming theological education

Scholars, pastors, and entrepreneurs came together at Seattle Pacific University in late October to brainstorm ways to transform theological education to appeal to today’s church. Through presentations and panels, invited attendees at the “Equipping Faithful Leaders” conference discussed ways theological education can renew churches and adjust to changing cultural dynamics. Kenda Creasy Dean, a United Methodist pastor and professor of youth, church, and culture at Princeton Theological Seminary, delivered a keynote address on the spiritual needs of millennials. The conference gathered about 75 professors and pastors from churches and schools in the Pacific Northwest and around the country.

Grant for Immerse: Youth Discipleship Academy funded by Lilly endowment

The School of Theology has received a grant of $600,000 from the Lilly Endowment to establish Immerse, the Seattle Pacific University Youth Discipleship Academy. This new intensive experience will bring high school students to campus and then reunite them for a follow-up retreat at Camp Casey. Immerse helps students grow deep in their identity as Christians.

Students will experience components of identity formation through classroom instruction from theology faculty, the practice of worship and other spiritual disciplines, on-site contextual application of faith to contemporary real-world issues, small and large group community-building, and recreational opportunities unique to the Pacific Northwest. The grant covers four years.