In the Loop

May 2022

Undergraduate Commencement weekend speakers announced

This year’s in-person Ivy Cutting and Commencement ceremonies are now less than 30 days away and the speakers for these two important High Ceremony events have been announced.

On Saturday, June 11, as students gather around Tiffany Loop for Ivy Cutting, the speaker will be Robert Drovdahl, professor of educational ministry. Drovdahl retires this year after 40 years working with SPU students. Throughout decades of working with young adults at SPU, Drovdahl focused his academic work on the church's teaching ministry and helping students explore God's calling in their lives.

The following day, when graduating students walk across the platform at the Tacoma Dome for the 2022 Undergraduate Commencement exercises, William Bell, president and CEO of Casey Family Programs will deliver the Commencement address. Bell has four decades of experience in the human services field, mainly focusing on child welfare, and he has served on numerous boards focused on Black achievement, violence reduction, and equitable opportunity. A native Mississippian, Bell was recognized in 2017 by his home state for his life of service to the nation’s children and families.

For more information about the 2022 Undergraduate Commencement, including additional year-end events, visit


Notes from SFS: Discount on summer credits and new grads can take a course for free

At Seattle Pacific, we believe a nationally ranked, private education should be accessible. Here are two ways that we are helping our students in the upcoming months:


To give current undergraduate students more options to meet their academic goals on time, Seattle Pacific is again offering an expanded selection of summer classes at a reduced cost of $625 per credit. That means your student can get a $389 per-credit savings from the $1,014 per-credit cost for the upcoming 2022–23 academic year.

Students are encouraged to work with their faculty advisor and academic counselor to identify how to complete general education requirements over the summer. Encourage your student to visit the Summer Sessions website for more information, as well as an updated list of courses.


As part of “Tuition Reimagined,” SPU alumni from the Class of 2022 can take an undergraduate or graduate course of their choice for free after having continuously enrolled and graduated from SPU. This allows new graduates to take extra time to complete a required course, take a course they dreamed of taking but didn’t have time to fit in, or get a head start on their graduate studies at SPU. Learn more.


Students find success through SPU’s engineering programs

If it weren’t for an SPU professor's encouragement, said Jeff Smith, he may have dropped out of his difficult engineering double major. But after one of his SPU professors came alongside him with support and encouragement, Smith persevered. Today, he said, has an engineering career that fulfills a childhood dream. And Smith is not alone.

You can read about several SPU engineering students who have something to say about how their choice of a major impacted their lives. “There have been many faculty at SPU who have had a very positive impact on my life, both in terms of exploring my faith, and my growth as an engineer,” said Hunter McSwain. Added Ashlynn Burgess, “We are so much stronger when we are surrounded by a community that believes in us. I found that community here at SPU.”

Read about Smith’s and other engineering students’ Success Stories through SPU’s Engineering Department.


SPU Voices Podcast: “Why Business Matters to God” with Jeff Van Duzer

In this new podcast, you’ll hear why Jeff Van Duzer, former SPU provost and dean of the (then) School of Business and Economics, said that work is part of God’s intended design — and why he admits to being an “unlikely author of a work about business.” Listen here or read the transcript.

The SPU Voices Podcast is a bimonthly interview show dedicated to telling inspiring and compelling stories about the greater SPU community. Listen to any of the episodes, view transcripts, and explore past shows at the SPU Voices Podcast website, and subscribe on all streaming platforms.


A student reflects on the SPU Mentor Program’s effect on her career path

By Kate Barker, Associate Director for the Center for Applied Learning

I recently sat down with Portland, Oregon, native and SPU transfer student, Marlee Causton, as she reflected on how the SPU Mentor Program helped her prepare for a purposeful future business. This is what the business administration major with a concentration in social enterprise had to say:

What were you looking for, or hoping for, when you applied to the Mentor Program?

As a transfer student who was also new to Seattle, I was looking for any opportunity to network and utilize the resources I had available to me as an SPU student.

When Mark Oppenlander [director of the Mentor Program] came to one of my classes and told us about this program, I knew I couldn’t pass it up. This program would give me access to professionals that I may not have connected with on my own. Networking is a huge key to being successful and opening doors in the business world, especially for a woman.

How did your mentor address your questions and concerns?

The mentor that I was paired with had a similar college path as myself, and I appreciated knowing she understood my current situation. She provided me with strategies that would help me set goals for my long-term career path, as well as more immediate plans. She offered insightful anecdotes from the “non-traditional” college path that she chose, which felt reassuring knowing that I didn’t need to be in a rush to follow the traditional four-year college education.

My mentor is also the CEO and founder of an incredible mission-based enterprise that promotes female business owners and entrepreneurs. She offered advice that stemmed from her many years of corporate experience at Microsoft and as a board member or founder of a handful of successful businesses.

How do you feel about the experience now? What were the outcomes?

After a few months of meeting with my mentor, I reached out to her for some advice and suggestions on finding a part-time job that would be sustainable while I was finishing my degree. And as Kate (my mentor) told me, timing is everything because she was looking to fill a roll within her company at that time.

I had two meetings with her colleagues and started working as an operations and account specialist for TheWMarketplace the following week. I have now had the opportunity to meet more than 100 female business owners, and that will only continue to grow as the company develops. I now get to learn from Kate and the other founders of TWM, as well as the business owners that we serve.

Thanks to the SPU Mentor Program, I am involved in a professional community of likeminded businesswomen who want to foster my professional growth and who are extremely supportive of continuing my education, as well.

The time and effort that Mark and others in the Center for Applied Learning took to get to know me and my professional interests led to a great mentor pairing that I am endlessly grateful for.

Editor's note: Students from any major who are interested in being matched with a mentor, doing a job shadow, or taking part in a "Career 360" through SPU's Mentor Program should visit the Mentor Program’s website for more information.


SPU’s Research, Reading, and Writing Studio

As students finish year-end projects and write their final papers of the year, they can get expert help in SPU’s Research, Reading, and Writing Studio by going to the studio’s location in the Ames Library or by logging into a remote visit using the Penji app.

Help for students can include working with a writing assistant at any stage of the student's writing process, getting help with research, tips about proof reading, help with adding proper citations to scholarly papers, and more.

Encourage your student to find out more, including how to make an appointment, by visiting the Research, Reading, and Writing Studio website.


Upcoming events

All times noted below are Pacific Daylight Savings Time.

Spring Mainstage: String
May 19–21 and May 25–28
7:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. matinee on Saturday, May 21
$15/ticket adults; $12/ticket students, seniors, military
McKinley Hall

After angering Zeus, the three goddess know as the Fates are banished to a modern office building in the mortal world, where they continue their work hidden among the mortals whose destinies they weave. An original rom-com musical about fate, love, and the imperfections that make us human. Note: All patrons will be expected to remain masked at all times and show proof of vaccination or a recent (past week) negative PCR test. Learn more and buy tickets.

“Great Expectations” concerts
May 25 and May 26
7:30 p.m. Seattle United Methodist Church and Livestreamed

Spanning two evenings, this extraordinary finale to our academic year includes a combined concert of the SPU Choirs, Wind Ensemble, and Orchestra. The evenings will include performances of works composed with “great expectations” for their premiere. The concert will feature a full performance of Beethoven’s Mass in C major. Livestream links here.

Memorial Day
Monday, May 30

No daytime classes; evening classes still meet. Campus offices and departments closed.

Student Reading/Faculty In-Service Day
Monday, June 6

Final exams for all day classes
Tuesday–Thursday, June 7–9

Residence halls close for summer break
Friday, June 10
4 p.m.

Ivy Cutting
Saturday, June 11
3–4 p.m.
Tiffany Loop

Visit for more information.

Undergraduate Commencement
Sunday, June 12
2–4 p.m.
Tacoma Dome, Tacoma, Washington

Visit for more information.

Falcon Summer Sports Camps
June–July 2022
Royal Brougham Pavilion

Boy’s and girl’s basketball camps throughout June and July. Visit Falcon Athletics for more information.

Summer Tech Camps
June–August 2022
Seattle Pacific University campus

Offered by SPU’s Department of Engineering and Computer Science, SPU’s Summer Tech Camps introduce high school students to game creation, 3D printing, and more. Visit for more information.

Academic calendars

SPU academic calendars, including important deadlines, final exam schedules, holidays, and academic highlights for 2021–22 and for 2022–23. 

Engage Events

Renowned national and international speakers, some of Seattle’s most engaging theatre performances, memorable concerts, and outstanding athletic competitions. Explore upcoming events.