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Your Student’s Life

Students in Ashton HallBecause Seattle Pacific University wants to see our students grow holistically, we are committed to their academic, spiritual, and co-curricular success.

To help parents get a glimpse of that experience — to see into what SPU is doing for your student each quarter — we’ve created Your Student’s Life, a series of articles about life in and out of the classroom.

It’s our way of letting you know the opportunities open to your student each quarter.

View our latest news below, or read our archives with more helpful articles about Your Student’s Life.

Rewarding Faculty for Their Excellence

Kathleen Braden

“Being a great teacher-scholar is not something that is taught in graduate school,” says Les Steele, vice president for academic affairs. “It takes a person who is called to teach and has a deep commitment to students and learning.”


On June 7, Kathleen Braden, professor of geography, was recognized in part for her deep commitment when she was named the SPU Faculty Teacher of the Year for 2010.


A True Honor

The SPU Faculty Teacher of the Year award is a true honor, especially since it is a peer-selected award.


Sponsored by the Center for Scholarship and Faculty Development and the Faculty Development Committee (FDC), the final winner is selected based on material including student evaluations, a personal statement about a successful teaching moment, syllabi, and classroom observations.


The award serves as a fitting way to recognize the many gifted teachers at SPU and to honor their efforts. And it’s a way to support SPU’s signature commitment to be a place that masters the tools of rigorous learning.


In addition to Professor Braden, the other faculty finalists — named by either their School or College of Arts and Sciences division — included Michelle Beauclair, professor of French; Carlene Brown, assistant professor of music; Kerry Dearborn, professor of theological studies; Kathy Lustyk, professor of psychology; Chris Sink, professor of education; Lisa Surdyk, associate professor of economics; and Cara Wall-Scheffler, assistant professor of biology.


As part of the recognition, Braden received a $1,000 honorarium and will be SPU’s nominee for the 2010 U.S. Professors of the Year Award , sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation.


An “Indefatigable Vision”

Braden has taught geography at SPU since 1982, with a five-year break when she served as dean of Student Life (1999–2004). Her classes and subjects include World Regional Geography, Economic Geography, Geopolitics, and a Capstone course in Civil Society.


Additionally, her seminar “Are There Dogs in Heaven?” — ever-popular with freshman students — examines animal suffering, animal exploitation, art and poems about our relationship with animals, and whether animals have souls.


Braden has an “indefatigable vision for academic program innovation,” according to her associate dean, and is renowned for her creative PowerPoint presentations, top-10 lists, wiki work, and contribution to SPU’s new global development studies major.


Her students say they especially appreciate her provision of reading notes, use of outside speakers from nongovernmental organizations, and practice of praying for the needs of the countries they are studying. “Dr. Braden is extremely responsive, knowledgeable, kind, and interesting to listen to,” writes one of her students. “I love that along with wisdom, she brings a heart that genuinely cares about her students and the subject matter.”


Vice President Steele agrees. “We hire and retain faculty who have this deep calling and passion.”




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