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Presidential Reflections on Seattle Pacific

A word from Interim President Pete C. Menjares, PhD, as this presidential search begins:

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

Messages from former Seattle Pacific presidents Daniel Martin, Philip Eaton, and David McKenna:

Daniel J. Martin JD, EdD:

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. SPU students go out into the world ready to access the real promise of innovation and global networks, but also propelled by the gospel to address the challenges of inequity and injustice. They are equipped to work for a future that is more peaceful and just. 

Philip W. Eaton, PhD, president emeritus:

“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. With unpromising demographics pressing in from all sides, with a Christian church splintered and declining, with technology changing the way we do most everything, with a culture in disarray and questioning the value of college — change is surely inevitable. 

“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.

“How might SPU go about change? Well, we need wisdom. We need prayer. We need unity and gracious community. We need new leadership to bring compelling, fresh vision. Perhaps, most of all, we need to dip down deeply and thoughtfully into our history to find what is of lasting value. There we will find, most critical of all, the enduring need to ground everything we do on the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ.

“As we have been reminded recently in the worldwide mourning for Queen Elizabeth II, there are things worth preserving: decency, poise, order, tradition, duty, competence. Nations, but as well organizations, universities, communities, churches, will thrive when those are the commitments that animate the core of who we are. The Queen also demonstrated how a country will be so much better when clarity of faith in Christ is evident and genuine. As the world slips hopelessly into skepticism and doubt, disorder and profound unsettledness, these are the driving commitments needed for nations and organizations to flourish.

“In our most difficult moments over this last phase at SPU, we have been tempted to ask whether the world needs Seattle Pacific University? But then we immediately think of an outstanding faculty — intelligent, wise, called to their work, creating a community full of grace, each person endowed with a vision how to make the world a better place, each person enlivened by faith in Jesus Christ. We think also of the loyal, hardworking administrators, from student life to admissions to campus ministries to those who prepare the food to those who plant and tend the flowers. We think then of graduates equipped with competence to engage a changing and chaotic world, those who have developed the character to address the moral and spiritual shape of a beautiful yet hurting world.

“This is yet another moment for SPU to rise to the enormous challenges out ahead, because, indeed, the world needs a healthy, thriving, vigorous, and vibrantly Christian Seattle Pacific University. What an exciting season out ahead for this great university.”

David L. McKenna, PhD, president emeritus:

“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. Out of these relationships come the missional vision, incarnational action, and redemptive outcomes of presidential leadership. The primary task of the president, then, is to integrate rigorous faith and rigorous learning in an academic community of Christian scholars and ready learners. 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.

“In the past, when SPU served a popular Christian majority, presidential leadership in the academy emphasized servanthood as the agent for change. In the future, when the popular Christian majority gives way to a declining Christian minority, the president will need a prophetic voice, speaking truth to power for academic freedom in the secular world, and providing a faithful presence for spiritual integrity in the Christian world.” 

What other SPU presidents have said in the past about Seattle Pacific: 

"Our mission at SPU is to give the world innovative, creative, Christ-centered individuals with a passion for truth and justice. That means we need to be willing to reach higher and dig deeper in support of the calculated risks that lead to greatness. Give us the tools and we will get the job done." — Curtis A. Martin, “Home for Homecoming: Experiencing the Past and Present at Hillford House,” January 1993 Response magazine

"Despite all the changes that have occurred at Seattle Pacific over time, some of which would be pretty overwhelming to the school's pioneers, this university has not forgotten its source of strength and guidance. We know that it is only with God that our future is full of possibility.” — David C. Le Shana, “Never Say Never: With God, All Things Are Possible,” January 1990 Response magazine

“Seattle Pacific College has a glorious past. The school year 1965–66 will be our Diamond Jubilee, in which year we will take stock of the philosophy of Christian higher education as represented by our college. ... We will be looking into the future surveying the long-range needs of the college — physical and spiritual and intellectual. ... You may be assured Christ and the Word of God are placed central in all of the planning for Seattle Pacific College. We depend upon our students now, as in the past, to interpret Christ to a needy world.”  — C. Dorr Demaray, 1965 Tawahsi yearbook

“Our debt to the past is great. Our obligation to the future is equally great. We are custodians of a great heritage. Let us as individual Christians and as representatives of a Christian institution daily make our contribution so as to perpetuate the splendid spirit of our Alma Mater. This can be accomplished in two ways. First, by having the incarnate in our own lives that which is of supreme worth — the spirit and mind of the Master; and second, by teaching others to reach the heights of creative living too they must maintain a happy balance between a God-breathed emotional dynamic and an empirically grounded intellectual logic.” — C. Hoyt Watson, 1937 Cascade yearbook



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