PORTRAIT BY JOEL KIMMEL

SEATTLE PACIFIC UNIVERSITY IS, by many measures, at a crossroads today. The University faces a complex array of challenges, including extraordinary pressures around budget correction, staff shortages, and declining enrollment.

Some of these challenges are universal to college campuses across the country. Others are unique to SPU and peer Christian institutions.

In May, SPU’s Board of Trustees voted to uphold historic policies that reflect long-held beliefs of biblical teachings on marriage and sexuality consistent with the University’s affiliation with the Free Methodist Church. Subsequently, SPU also filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court to help ensure our religious freedom as protected by the First Amendment.

We encourage diversity of opinion, but the lawsuit was filed to protect our constitutional rights to hire to our mission and ensure the individuals we employ agree with and adhere to our statement of faith and community standards, including our lifestyle expectations.

“Seattle Pacific University was once again ranked a ‘Best National University’ by U.S. News & World Report.” — Interim President Pete Menjares

Students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, and community members have expressed diverse opinions on all sides of these decisions. And we acknowledge that faithful and sincere Christians disagree on topics such as gender identity and sexuality. Despite our deep differences, we desire for SPU to be united in our faith in Jesus Christ and in the principles on which the University was launched more than 130 years ago.

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.

Even as we grapple with these challenges, we also celebrate some notable achievements.

Seattle Pacific University was once again ranked a “Best National University” by U.S. News & World Report. This marked the seventh year in a row we received this designation. Our more than 3,400 undergraduate and graduate students are being equipped daily to anticipate and shape the future in a world-class city.

The Seattle Pacific Foundation endowment experienced exponential growth of nearly 400% in the last decade, lowering the cost of attendance for 96% of our undergraduate students who receive scholarships and financial aid each year.

We launched a variety of new programs to meet the evolving needs of students. These include a master of science in research psychology and a master of arts in Christian ministry.

Additionally, an undergraduate degree in early childhood education and a certificate in worship studies are now being offered. New programs under development include a master of science in nutrition and certificates in creative writing and UX/UI (user experience and user interface) design.

Seattle Pacific University’s Center for Faithful Business launched Serving the World, the fourth season of the Faith & Co. film series, exploring how business can be a powerful instrument in solving social and environmental problems around the world.

Our School of Health Sciences partnered with King County’s Public Health Department to link nursing students with public health opportunities. The partnership introduces eight nursing student fellows to opportunities to serve in the public health sector.

All of these endeavors make me hopeful about what God is doing at SPU. We have great work to do, and I humbly pray God continues to bless and provide his ongoing favor, providence, and protection on Seattle Pacific University.

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