Institutional Milestones

Skip Li ’66 (right) interviews Eugene Peterson ’54, author of The Message, during the gala

Skip Li ’66 (right) interviews Eugene Peterson ’54, author of The Message, during the gala.

SPU ranked a “Best National University”

Seattle Pacific is the only private university in the Pacific Northwest to make the 2017 U.S. News & World Report Best National Universities list. SPU joins the University of Washington and Washington State University as the only three institutions from Washington state named to the magazine’s list.

U.S. News defines national universities as those institutions offering a full range of undergraduate majors, plus master’s and doctoral programs, and committed to producing groundbreaking research. SPU’s ranking results in part from growth in its graduate and doctoral programs in business, education, psychology, nursing, and theology. The ranking also recognizes SPU’s emphasis on undergraduate research, in which students work alongside faculty on important research and serve as interns at world-renowned companies and institutions in the Seattle area and beyond.

125th anniversary celebration culminates with gala

This year SPU honored its founders’ global vision and commitment to scholarly excellence by celebrating the University’s 125th anniversary. An inspiring invitation-only gala, held May 20, served as a culmination of the year’s celebrations, highlighting the storied past, exciting present, and visionary future of Seattle Pacific University through a multimedia experience. As hosts Kristen Eddings Tetteh ’06 and Skip Li ’66 interviewed notable SPU alumni and talked about the University’s history, guests dined on cuisine from noted Seattle chef Tom Douglas and watched musical performances by the band Joseph, a group of three accomplished SPU alumnae.

The band Joseph

A band of three sisters, Joseph has performed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Natalie Closner Schepman ’09 together with her sisters, Allison and Meegan Closner, took a break from their international tour to perform at SPU’s 125th Anniversary Gala. Joseph recently released their debut record, I’m Alone, No You’re Not, via ATO Records.

Schepman credits part of her success to SPU music faculty members.“Time and time again, they trusted me with opportunities I didn’t feel qualified for,” she recalls. “It happened with solos, performances, student leadership, and even final exams that felt impossible. But they never showed any doubt in my ability. They seemed to know I could do it even when I wasn’t sure. They believed in me so I learned to believe in myself.”

Watch highlights of the gala, including Joseph’s performance:

125,000 hours of service project exceeds goal by more than 100,000 hours

In celebration of SPU’s 125th anniversary, SPU made a goal of contributing 125,000 hours of service to our communities. Thanks to the contributions of SPU students, alumni, faculty, staff, and parents, the community far exceeded this goal, reaching a total tally of 228,000 hours. Service hours took place through SPU events and organizations such as SPRINT, CityQuest, the Perkins Center, and Latreia. Other student hours were recorded through academic internships and clinical practicums. Finally, SPU also tracked individual or group alumni, staff, and parent volunteer efforts.

SPU by the numbers: 2016–17

Autumn Quarter 2016 enrollment: 4,061

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 3,095
  • Post-baccalaureate enrollment: 26
  • Graduate enrollment: 940

Academic Programs offered:

  • Undergraduate majors: 65
  • Undergraduate minors: 57
  • Undergraduate concentrations: 60
  • Master’s degree programs: 20
  • Doctoral degree programs: 5
  • Graduate certificates: 12
Sandra Richards Mayo

New vice president to lead campus diversity efforts

SPU has selected a new vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion: Sandra Richards Mayo. In her academic and administrative roles, Richards Mayo has focused on social justice, diversity, and equity. Her scholarly work has explored historical perspectives on racial disparities. She joined the Senior Leadership Team and began her role on July 1.

Previously an associate professor and director of the doctoral program in educational leadership at Azusa Pacific University, she has also served as associate dean for academic affairs in the APU School of Education, with primary responsibility for student academic support, curricular management, and faculty development. “This inaugural position represents SPU’s commitment to the ongoing work of reconciliation and provides a strategic opportunity to fulfill our institutional mission,” Richards Mayo says. “I am deeply honored to join the community as we set a vision forward to achieve greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in all that we do.”

Book on early SPU history published to honor 125th anniversary

“To know a family is to know its roots,” says Free Methodist scholar Howard Snyder. Snyder’s book, Rooted in Mission: The Founding of Seattle Pacific University 1891–1916, was commissioned by School of Theology Dean Doug Strong to serve as a definitive history of Seattle Pacific’s earliest years. Snyder — the visiting director of the Manchester Wesley Research Center in Manchester, England — helps readers rediscover SPU’s origins, before it was a university or even a college. Snyder pays particular attention to SPU’s Free Methodist founders — Nils Peterson, Hiram Pease, John Norton, Alexander and Adelaide Beers, and B.T. and Ellen Roberts (the founding couple of the Free Methodist denomination, whose lives Snyder celebrated in an earlier biography). The book is available at the SPU bookstore.

Seminary granted highest accreditation

In June 2016, Seattle Pacific Seminary received accreditation from the Association of Theological Schools, joining more than 270 institutions in the U.S. and Canada in the pursuit of the highest standards of excellence in academic research, classroom instruction, and pre-professional training. The Seminary, which began in 2009, attained accreditation in the shortest possible time after graduating its first class of students in 2011 and was granted accreditation for the longest time allowed for a newly accredited school: seven years. The evaluators noted the benefits of the Seminary’s role within the University, saying that it “serves the seminary by providing benefits it would not otherwise have as a stand-alone school, and it serves the university by providing a leading voice and vision from the theology faculty for the institution’s Christian character and culture.”

Bryan Stevenson

Equal justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson speaks on campus

Founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and a professor of law at New York University School of Law, Bryan Stevenson has received national acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and people of color. He was the guest speaker during SPU’s chapel on March 28, in Royal Brougham Pavilion, where he spoke about how Christians can respond to injustice. Later that evening, Stevenson spoke at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall as part of his sold-out Seattle Arts & Lectures series event. That event was co-presented by Seattle Pacific University, Seattle University, and the University of Washington. Stevenson is the author of the New York Times best-seller and memoir Just Mercy, which personalizes his many fights against injustice.

Doctoral nursing program begins Autumn 2017

For individuals who hold a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in nursing and want to advance their careers, there’s a new option: SPU’s doctor of nursing practice degree. DNP students can earn a doctorate as a family or adult/ gerontology nurse practitioner or as a clinical nurse specialist. “We are very excited to bring our advanced practice nursing pathways to the doctoral level. Increasingly complex care and changing health care delivery systems demand new knowledge and skills for current and future nurses,” says Lorie Wild, dean of the School of Health Sciences. National nursing organizations have endorsed the DNP as the academic qualification for entry into practice for advanced practice nurses.