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Seattle Pacific University Presidential Search

Since Seattle Pacific’s founding in 1891 when Nils and Karen Peterson gave five acres of their homestead to establish Seattle Seminary, less than a dozen individuals have been called to lead this institution, first as Seattle Seminary, then as Seattle Pacific College, and now as Seattle Pacific University.

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Dr. Deana Porterfield elected as SPU's next president

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Dr. Deana Porterfield, president of Roberts Wesleyan University and Northeastern Seminary at Roberts Wesleyan University, was unanimously elected today by the Seattle Pacific University Board of Trustees as the university’s next president. Porterfield will be only the 12th president in the university’s 132-year history. She will assume her duties on July 1, 2023.

“I’m very pleased to welcome Dr. Porterfield to the SPU community as our next president,” said Dean Kato, chairman of the Board of Trustees. “She comes with a lifetime of work in Christian higher education and is not only a demonstrated leader in enrollment, fundraising, and new program development, but is also passionate about building relationships with students and community partners.”

Dr. Porterfield was selected after a comprehensive national search that began last July. She will be the first female president of SPU and will succeed Interim President Pete Menjares.

With more than 35 years of experience in Christian higher education, including almost nine years as president of Roberts Wesleyan, Dr. Porterfield is known as a visionary leader with a passion for faith-based higher education which promotes transformational learning and hope. She is an involved leader within the Rochester, New York, community and in higher education. Dr. Porterfield serves on several boards and has been recognized with numerous awards for community and organizational leadership. She is the 11th president of Roberts and third president of Northeastern Seminary. Dr. Porterfield earned a doctorate in organizational leadership from the University of La Verne in La Verne, CA, a master's degree in organizational management and a bachelor's degree in music education from Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, CA.

Like Seattle Pacific, Roberts Wesleyan is a Christian university affiliated with the Free Methodist Church of North America. Roberts was the first educational institution established by the Free Methodists in 1866. SPU was founded in 1891.

“As an academic community, SPU has always led the way, bringing new insights and thoughtful discussion to complex conversations that face us in our society,” said Porterfield. “The work needed to take on the challenges ahead begins with us, and I look forward to partnering with the SPU community in prayer, deep hope, and confidence that we can move SPU forward.”

What they’re saying about this presidential search:

SPU remains a place where students can explore and go deeper in their faith. We are committed to be an intentionally respectful, compassionate, loving, and grace-filled community where students can safely ask tough questions characteristic of a liberal arts education. — Pete C. Menjares, PhD, Interim President

The University’s location in Seattle is no accident, but neither was it a foregone conclusion. It is the result of hard work and lobbying by a few people more than a century ago who foresaw the promising future of this city. SPU attracts students who want to learn in this thriving, urban environment. The University both challenges and trains them to become leaders who are equipped with the ability to change the world for good, in Seattle and beyond. ... — Daniel J. Martin, JD, EdD

As Seattle Pacific University faces a pivotal transition in its illustrious history, what needs to change, we might ask? So many people are saying, thoughtfully, and from a number of angles, universities will never go back to the way things were. ... But rather than face this prospect with fear and foreboding, just think what an incredible opportunity for SPU to regroup and step out with vision of where things must go. That’s the role this great university has always assumed.” — Philip W. Eaton, PhD

Seattle Pacific University is a vine of God’s own planting. Its feeder root goes deeply into biblical truth and is personalized by presidential leadership based upon faith that is humble before the Father, centered in Jesus Christ the Son, and obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. ... To this task, the president brings the qualities of exemplary Christian character and proven academic competence to lead with humility and, if necessary, self-sacrifice. — David L. McKenna, PhD

Read the complete quotes and more

SPU Presidents

Alexander A. Beers

Orrin E. Tiffany

C. Hoyt Watson

C. Dorr Demaray

David L. McKenna

David C. Le Shana

Curtis A. Martin

E. Arthur Self

Philip W. Eaton

Daniel J. Martin

Pete C. Menjares, interim

Deana L. Porterfield