Doug Taylor and Ken Cornell standing outside

President Porterfield announced the appointment of two vice presidents and an interim chief academic officer for Seattle Pacific University as her leadership team takes shape.

Doug Taylor ’87 (above, left), joined SPU as the new vice president for University Advancement on Oct. 1. Taylor is an experienced strategic fundraiser in nonprofits and higher education, and also a former director of Alumni and Parent Relations at SPU.

After 13 years as director of the Alumni Office and two years as a senior giving officer at SPU, Taylor served as vice president for Institutional Advancement at Columbia Theological Seminary. Most recently, Taylor spent the past eight years as the senior area director for World Vision USA.

“Part of the work of fundraising is telling stories,” Taylor said. “I witness Jesus’ redemption of the world one person at a time and then have the privilege of sharing their story.”

SPU is a family affair for Taylor whose two daughters, Maggie Taylor ’19 and Fiona Taylor ’21, attended the University. Taylor’s grandmother, Lois Roth, worked for the School of Health Sciences in the 1970s, and his mother, Mary Lois Taylor ’61, also graduated from SPU.

Ken Cornell ’85, MBA ’94 (above, right), returned to SPU in the role of vice president for Enrollment Management and Marketing on Sept. 1. Before this role, Cornell served as senior vice president over enrollment, fundraising, and marketing at Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington.

Cornell brings more than 30 years of experience as a senior executive in higher education. He worked at SPU from 1990 to 2013, where he held various leadership roles across marketing and admissions, including assistant vice president for Marketing and Admissions. Cornell then worked in senior positions in University Advancement and with Alumni and Parent Relations at SPU before moving to Northwest University in 2013.

Cornell counts many SPU alums in his family, including his mother-in-law, Nancy Nienhuis ’54, his wife, Rona Garden Cornell ’88, MEd ’94.

“We are fortunate to have someone with the depth of experience Ken brings, paired with his deep love for our University,” President Porterfield wrote in an announcement of Cornell’s hire to SPU faculty and staff.

Les Steele, interim chief academic officer and vice president of Academic Affairs

And, while SPU proceeds with a search for a new chief academic officer and vice president for Academic Affairs, Les Steele will continue to serve on an interim basis through the 2023-24 academic year.

“Dr. Steele stepped into this role during the recent leadership transitions and fiscal rightsizing of the University. He has demonstrated his ability to provide valuable and needed leadership,” President Porterfield said. “Dr. Steele will work with me to set the organizational structure of the academic functions of the University, provide leadership oversight for our needed work with the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, and create a model of support and care for our faculty and academic priorities.”

Steele graduated from Azusa Pacific University and then completed his PhD at Claremont Graduate School. He joined the faculty of Wheaton College, followed by Azusa Pacific, and then SPU where he was a member of the faculty in the School of Theology and also served as dean.

He was vice president for Academic Affairs for 11 years at SPU before accepting the role of senior vice president for the Northwest Commission for Colleges and Universities, the regional accrediting body for over 175 colleges and universities across seven states.

Seattle Pacific will be working with FaithSearch Partners and a Chief Academic Officer Search Committee to identify candidates for the role.


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