The vision for the University
Our vision calls us to bring hope into the world we serve. In other words, we want to use the powerful tools of the Christian university to change the world. That is the vision deeply imbedded now into the fabric of Seattle Pacific. We seek to bring the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ, a vision for human flourishing, into the lives of our students, our campus community, and to the far reaches of the globe. We seek to engage the culture and change the world so that all of God’s children might flourish.
The driver for the plan
In response to the challenging times ahead for higher education in America, we believe the only way to effectively accomplish our vision to engage the culture and change the world is to sharpen our competitive edge. And so that is the main driver for this plan: to sharpen our competitive edge. We must attract the best students, outstanding faculty, and strong resources in the years ahead. As our Blueprint says so clearly, we must be and become a premier, national Christian university.
The process behind the plan
Over the last two years or so, we have sought to create a culture of conversation on our campus to determine the needs and aspirations for what lies ahead. Throughout this conversation we have been asking these questions: Where are we headed? What are the forces of challenge in our economic, social, and educational environments? Is our vision clear and relevant to these challenges?
This plan then comes directly out of a huge amount of conversation, literally hundreds of hours, with trustees, faculty, staff, students, consultants, and others. In this spirit, of course, we pledge as well continuing conversation as we move forward to finalize and implement the plan.
Our moment in time
This plan is centered on our conviction that we are entering a new era of intensified competition in higher education, driven by such things as flattening demographics among college-age students, rising costs and escalating prices, and a turbulent and uncertain economy. We must know what we are doing in the face of these challenges.
We also hold the conviction that only those institutions will flourish that have achieved clarity of vision, certainty of identity and purpose, strategic plans for excellence of performance, a strong financial base, and financial aid resources to keep the cost of attendance affordable.
We have worked hard to lay strong foundations in just these ways. Our vision is clear and compelling; we are focused by signature distinctives; our Christian identity is enthusiastically endorsed across our campus community and unquestioned by our supporters; and our regional and national visibility has grown immensely.
Most of all we are graduating young people of competence, character, and vision to shape the future of the world. We are attracting and supporting a strong community of Christian scholars and teachers on our faculty who are indeed engaging the culture through their expertise.
And so now is the time to make our next strategic move. Now is the time to sharpen our competitive edge. Now is the time to ensure that our vision and our plans are relevant and competitive in a changing and challenging environment.
And so what will sharpen our competitive edge in these challenging times?
This plan is about our vision:
We seek to position our distinctive vision as an attractive alternative in the broader scheme of higher education in America. This is crucial.
This plan is about students:
Attracting and graduating the right students who are capable of changing the world. Students are critical to our vision.
This plan is about faculty:
Attracting and supporting the right faculty who will equip our students to change the world. Faculty are critical to our vision.
This plan is about community:
Grounded on the conviction that the best education for our students and faculty takes place in community.
A word about vision, students, faculty, and community
The profound loss of community, in our society as well as in the modern university, comes in part from the inability in our culture to embrace a story of what is true and good and beautiful. As a Christian university, we owe our students more than this.
We have a story to offer our students and the world, a story of human flourishing. This is our supreme distinctive.
We also recognize that we embrace the Christian story only in community. And we are compelled by the conviction that great students are attracted to strong and vital community. Outstanding Christian faculty are drawn and nourished by vibrant intellectual community. In this increasingly fractious society, exacerbated by personal technologies that are ubiquitous among young people, we believe we need to teach and model what it means to live and work in genuine community.
It is out of genuine community that we fulfill our vision to change the world. We believe this strong commitment to community will sharpen our competitive edge.
What then do we propose — focused by vision, students, faculty, and community — to sharpen our competitive edge?
1. Strengthening the Faculty
Consistent with the high priority given to growing our faculty over the past decade, and on the basis of a major evaluation of our faculty, we have determined to invest in new faculty over the next five years. We believe the best education, our kind of education, is in large part the result of meaningful encounter between the faculty member and the student. We seek then to enhance that encounter through additional faculty.
2. Program Initiatives
There are a number of very exciting program initiatives on the plate that we believe are central to our vision and therefore part of the plan to sharpen our competitive edge. Some of these programs are already launched, others in various stages of development. We seek to fund these initiatives through further foundation grants and operations over time.
- The Biblical and Theological Education Initiative
- The Global Initiative
- The Center for Scholarship and Faculty Development
- The Science Initiative
- The Perkins Center for Reconciliation
- The Graduate Programs in Theology
- The Center for Worship
- Cutting-edge Research on Learning: through the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research, through undergraduate research in the sciences, and through our focus on learning in the sciences, psychology, and in the School of Education
Out of all the options from our facilities planning over the last five years, we believe two new projects both address the highest need on campus and contribute best to sharpening our competitive edge. The concept and design for these new facilities are decidedly shaped around vision, students, faculty, and community.
The New University Center. This is actually three-projects-in-one, a new complex of buildings located at Third and Dravus, fronting the Tiffany Loop. The New University Center includes these three components:
A learning center for faculty and students. This center will include new state-of-the-art classrooms, a home for faculty scholarship and development, a place to enhance our national status on the research of learning, and space for students to gather with each other and with faculty across disciplines. This learning center responds to a need on campus for classrooms.
New home for art and music and support for theatre. This part of the University Center will enhance our commitment to the arts as cultural engagement, a commitment that contributes both to the life of our own campus community and as well to the Seattle community and beyond. We are calling for new vision in the arts from our faculty leadership in these areas. Following our push over years to invest in the sciences, this is an appropriate next step, to strengthen our work in the arts as we seek to prepare students for engagement in the world.
A 1,000-seat gathering hall for lectures, worship, chapel, concerts, and high ceremony events. As a university shaped by the profound value of community, this hall is essential to our competitive edge in the future. We do not now have a gathering place. This hall will be a gathering center for all we do. This will also be a place from which to impact the broader community with our vision. This hall will be vitally linked to the classrooms and the arts.
The New Student Center. Students tell us they long for community across the campus. Right now the common identity-centers for students are in the residence halls, something that sometimes tends to separate students and keep us from our goal for overall community.
As with the University Center, this Student Center is also designed with the clear goal to enhance the community of our students. This Center will also be the home for our nationally recognized program in student leadership and as well a place to enhance intentional education outside the classroom to prepare graduates for global engagement.
What then will support and fund these initiatives?
1. Undergraduate Enrollment Strategy
We are renewing and sharpening our enrollment strategy to serve the goals of the plan. Our whole vision is based on attracting and graduating great students, students who fit our mission and get our vision, and those who move through to graduation. This enrollment strategy is absolutely vital to our mission as well as our economic prosperity.
2. Tuition/Financial Aid Strategy
As investments are made in quality (faculty, program initiatives, facilities), tuition price and financial aid investment must be managed carefully commensurate to that quality. This strategy will continue to be a most significant challenge in the next few years: how to remain competitive with our price and financial aid while at the same time continuing to pay for the high quality we offer.
3. Endowment Strategy
Growth in our endowment is also critical to the economic model that supports our mission. There is no other way for us to flourish than to build a strong endowment in the years ahead. Because we are now attracting the best students, we are in competition for those students as never before. This will require competitive financial aid and scholarships, funded through the campaign, through our ongoing planned giving program, and through investment returns on our endowment.
4. Positioning Strategy
We believe the success of the plan and our overall vision for the University depends on getting the word out in strong, clear, compelling, and winsome ways. We must continue to increase our national visibility. We will, therefore, focus our positioning immediately on drawing students and financial supporters from cities across the nation, especially those with positive demographics for college-age students.
5. Fundraising Campaign
A fundraising campaign, along with other sources of funding, is designed to provide the new resources needed for the vision and goals of this plan. Clear and compelling vision, as outlined in this plan and the Blueprint, will lead the way for the campaign. The theme of the campaign will be centered on our vision to bring hope into the world we serve: through students, through faculty, and through community.
6. Other Sources of Funding
We have built a plan for funding from various sources to complement proceeds from our fundraising campaign. All sources of funding then include the following:
- A Campaign
- Gifts already in hand
- The five-year University budget, including reallocation of existing funding
- Grant funding from foundations and government sources
- Released capital from our various real estate assets
- Bond financing as such debt capacity matures
- Investment income from various assets
7. The Fourth Quarter
In order to maximize our underutilized campus in the fourth quarter (basically the summer season), we are designing a plan for powerful outreach into the community, the church, schools, national Christian higher education, business, alumni, etc. We imagine potential for a pastors’ college, alumni college, continuing education for seniors, executive training in business, Brain Center/School of Education institutes, programs for the Center for Worship, graduate education, international symposia, and undergraduate summer school. Net proceeds from this initiative will enhance our ability to accomplish our plan.