A wooden coaster sits on a program from Dr. Deana L. Porterfield's inauguration. The coaster reads "God is doing a new thing (Isaiah 43:15-19) Seattle Pacific University 2023-24
The Seattle Pacific University medallion affixed to the top of the ceremonial scepter | photo by Mike Siegel

“Today we share in creating the next season of great opportunity for Seattle Pacific University, bringing our own unique strength and resources and adding substance to the future story that will be told,” said President Deana L. Porterfield in her inaugural address to the University on Feb. 23, 2024. “Going forward involves each of you — faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends — with faith as our common fabric and prayer the essential thread.”

It was a day of celebration, songs, and prayer for the University community, including past SPU presidents Curtis Martin, Philip W. Eaton, and Pete Menjares who were in attendance. Douglas Cullum, a pastoral representative and personal friend of President Porterfield’s, shared his reflections, describing the president as “refreshingly authentic, professional but unassuming, and genuine.”

“Deana is heart and passion, commitment, vision, and belief,” Cullum said.

President Porterfield is only the 12th president, and the first female, to lead the University since its founding in 1891.

Dr. Deana Porterfield bows her head during the dedication | photo by Mike Siegel

“Seattle Pacific is an example of what can be done through people responding to the call to advance the work of God in the world. Each faculty, staff, and student who walks this campus embodies a piece of our community, and when they leave, they leave part of themselves, which continues to shape and mold who we are.” — President Porterfield, from her inaugural address.

Board of Trustees members look on during the 2024 Presidential Inauguration | photo by Mike Siegel
Three former SPU presidents were in attendance at the inauguration. From left: Curtis Martin, Philip W. Eaton, and Pete Menjares.
Dr. Leland Saunders holds the ceremonial scepter during the 2024 Presidential Inauguration | photo by Mike Siegel
Professor of Philosophy Leland Saunders preceded the president with the University mace, which bears the academic seal and represents the authority of the president.
Dean Kato presents Dr. Deana Porterfield with the Presidential Medallion during the 2024 Presidential Inauguration | photo by Mike Siegel
“As a Christian community of higher education committed to character, competence, and service, we seek to ground everything we do on the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ. Such a claim is both personal — a commitment by each member of our community — and institutional — a corporate aspiration that has guided this institution from its founding.” — Dean Kato, board of trustees chair, presented Dr. Porterfield with the presidential medallion.

Board of Trustees Vice Chair Deborah Wilds reads at the podium | photo by Mike Siegel
Board of Trustees Vice Chair Deborah Wilds provided a Scripture reading from Isaiah 43:15–19
The SPU choir performs during the 2024 Presidential Inauguration | photo by Mike Siegel
SPU’s Concert Choir sang a hymn chosen by President Porterfield, “He Will Hold Me Fast.”
Dr. Deana L. Porterfield smiles during the dedication at the 2024 Presidential Inauguration | photo by Mike Siegel
“President Porterfield’s mind never stops. She’s always listening, always learning, always wanting to hear the full range of perspectives. She’s not easily offended, but … she’s not afraid to land the plane. You or I may not necessarily land on the same page as she does in the responsibilities of her role, but I can assure you of this: Wherever she lands, you can be assured that she will have done it with complete integrity, through faithful and careful listening to the community and the mission and her heart and her faith.” — Douglas Cullum, pastoral representative
Dr. Deana L. Porterfield poses with emeriti faculty after the 2024 Presidential Inauguration | photo by Mike Siegel

The Breakfast Club. One was the architect and first dean of the School of Theology. Others served at SPU for more than four decades, helping students read Scripture in a new way, developing Bible study courses, and establishing teaching standards for the School of Theology. They are authors, recognized Bible scholars, and they helped to write SPU’s Statement of Faith.

Together, these five emeriti theologians represent a cumulative total of 188 years of service to Seattle Pacific University. Along with President Porterfield, they are (below, from left): Les Steele, Bob Drovdahl, Frank Spina, Rob Wall, and Richard Steele.

On the first Wednesday of each month, they are now informal members of the “Theology Breakfast Group.” President Porterfield has become an unofficial participant of the breakfast club, where she has the opportunity to gain a historical perspective on SPU’s Wesleyan heritage and Christian identity.

“Deana has asked for our input as she frames the issues theologically for the contemporary situation on campus and in the world,” said Richard Steele, emeriti professor of moral and historical theology. “Her aim is practical and, one might almost say, ‘pastoral’ as she is trying to interpret what our heritage means today.”

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