Stories by Connie McDougall
Photo by Jimi Lott
Royal Brougham Pavilion filled with students, faculty and staff members attending the second annual President's Recognition Chapel in May. The gathering had a single purpose: to recognize more than 70 people for their contributions to SPU.
Most of those honored were celebrating anniversaries at the University ranging from five years to 35 years. In addition, SPU students bestowed the "Professor of the Year" award on Ed Bauman of the Department of Engineering, and SPU staff gave "Staff Member of the Year" honors to Clint Kelly of University Communications and Nonie Faris of Family and Consumer Sciences.
Now in its second year, the newest SPU award tradition was also celebrated. "The President's Awards for Excellence" were given by President Philip Eaton to Professor of English Joyce Erickson and Maintenance and Trades Coordinator Wayne Elling for significant contributions to Seattle Pacific during the 1998-99 academic year.
"I'm amazed at the peace the Lord has given me throughout this experience," he adds quietly. "The spiritual significance is greater than what it's done for me physically."
That he would focus on things of the spirit surprises no one who knows him well.
"He daily shows his Christian walk," says Sue Martin, administrative assistant in Plant Services at SPU. She has known Elling for almost the entire 15 years he's worked there, and says he definitely warms up the office. "It tends to be a practical place, but he brings a special quality to it. I've seen people talking about their problems and Wayne will say, 'Let's stop and pray about that.'"
J. Earl Cowley, one of Elling's colleagues, admires the man immensely and over the years has become a friend. "I was one of the people who first hired him," Cowley recalls. "I was impressed with him. He was an excellent carpenter and he had a gentle nature, yet there's steel in his backbone. It's unusual but nice to have those qualities in one man."
Elling found work at Seattle Pacific through serendipity. An SPU employment listing was mistakenly delivered to Elling's church and the minister gave it to him. He saw a couple of openings that interested him, including a position as in-house carpenter.
Then an independent contractor who owned his own construction business, Elling was ready to try something new. After he was offered the SPU job, his wife, Joyce, began working for then SPU president David Le Shana.
Elling found a niche on campus and he is now maintenance and trades coordinator. He's also known informally as the "pastor of Plant Services." Off the clock, he ministers to others off campus, preaching at the Union Gospel Mission in downtown Seattle. "It's a real blessing to be down there," he says.
When President Eaton gave Elling the President's Award for Excellence at the May ceremony, he commented on Elling's rare combination of strength of character and kindness. "He is a manager who shows remarkable care and compassion for others," said Eaton. "He is a leader who masters his responsibilities and treats everyone with dignity and respect."
At Seattle Pacific, Faris has found not just a job but a vocation. She began work at Seattle Pacific in 1984 as an administrative assistant in Plant Services. Three years later, she was hired by the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences -- and the staff, faculty and students there are forever grateful.
Faris deserves the Staff Member of the Year honor, says Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Barbara Bovy. "Nonie is exceptionally competent, organized and innovative. She takes pride in her work, but more importantly she cares about people -- the faculty and students she serves."
Bovy notes that every holiday season "Nonie gets more Christmas cards than anyone else in the department."
Faris readily admits it's the people side of her work that keeps her so deeply engaged. Her role as department administrative assistant means regular contact with students. "I enjoy the students so much. I really feel like that is my passion Ñ to answer student questions and help them, whatever it is they need."
When pressed, she will tell a tale or two about students who have come back after graduation to let her know how much she meant to them. She particularly remembers the gratitude of one international student who is now a successful designer in California.
The young woman returned to SPU one day to say it was Nonie's attentiveness and caring that made her pick family and consumer sciences as her major. "She told me that if I was the kind of person the department produced, she wanted to be part of it," Faris recalls with a smile. "That was really something."
It's her quiet, but enormous influence that will be sorely missed when Faris retires this December. "She'll be impossible to replace," says Assistant Professor Sandra Hartje. "She works so well with everyone, and she's always calm in the midst of chaos."
Faris will miss her colleagues, too, but she looks forward to spending time with her husband in retirement and having fun with their two grandkids, ages four and seven. "It's true," she says. "They are the joy of our lives."
Nominees for the annual award are submitted by members of the student body. Then, after listening to student testimony about the finalists, an Associated Students of Seattle Pacific (ASSP) committee selects one professor to be honored.
This award means everything to the professor of electrical engineering, a man who has dedicated his life to students. "I just think it's what we are supposed to do," says Bauman with characteristic humility. "We're here to help students find their way, to help them become successful for the Lord."
His support is available even if students decide against majoring in engineering. Tim Viers, 1998-99 ASSP president, remembers one student who spoke on behalf of Bauman. "The student was switching from electrical engineering to business and he told us that Dr. Bauman went above and beyond to help him find people who were in his new field," Viers recalls. "We heard over and over again that Professor Bauman is committed to students first and foremost."
Bauman is also a longtime promoter of the High Flight Society cadre at SPU, which helps students take their faith into the real-life world of work. The cadre was created by Bauman and his friend Apollo 15 astronaut Jim Irwin.
The Bauman legacy stretches back to his early career in Colorado Springs, where he taught at the Air Force Academy and led Saturday night Bible studies in his home, an event that sometimes attracted 100 young people. "In a way, I feel more comfortable with college-age people than adults my age," says Bauman with a smile. "It's a mindset I've developed over the years."
He came to SPU in 1985, bringing the University prestige as well as expertise. He's had the pleasure of seeing the electrical engineering program blossom, and two of his grandsons graduate from Seattle Pacific with EE degrees.
When Bauman retires in a year or so, he'll have the added delight of watching one of his proteges return to the department as a faculty member. She is Melani Plett, a 1991 SPU graduate now finishing her doctorate at the University of Washington. Plett taught full-time at SPU before leaving to pursue her graduate degree.
"He's my boss, my friend and my mentor," Plett says. "He is incredibly enthusiastic and caring. He loves what he does, but most of all, he loves the students."
For instance, Kelly spent the month of February in India as a Rotary Club ambassador. "Clint's not afraid of trying something new, that's for sure," says co-worker Tracy Cooper, "and he has a contagious can-do attitude."
Kelly's cheerful and persevering nature was encouraged during a Portland, Oregon, childhood where he developed a fondness for the outdoors, so much so that he later earned an associate's degree in forestry. After college, he moved with his wife, Cheryll, to Alberta, Canada, where he worked at a boys' school. There he taught part-time and worked on a Christian newsmagazine produced on the school's printing press.
As he learned the writing trade under the hard-nosed tutelage of a former Washington Post reporter, Kelly's family grew to include four children. By the early '80s, it was time to move home to Everett, Washington.
Kelly found new challenges in freelance writing and becoming a househusband while Cheryll worked. Out of his experiences raising four rambunctious kids came the wise and funny book, Me Parent, You Kid! Taming the Family Zoo. "They say, 'Write about what you know,' and I knew kids," he laughs.
Kelly came to SPU as a writer in 1988. Eleven years later, all of his children have attended Seattle Pacific and Dad has established a reputation for professional excellence. Besides serving as a staff writer for Response, he has authored and coordinated hundreds of publications, ranging from Alumni Weekend brochures to Seattle Pacific Foundation annual reports. It's this and more that earned him recognition as one of two Staff Members of the Year.
"One thing that impresses me about Clint is his rock-solid commitment to God," says his supervisor, Director of University Communications John Glancy. "His life is strong testimony to the 'winsome' nature of Christ."
No one fails to be impressed by The Kelly Cubicle. The small space in which Kelly works contains family photos, cartoons, plants, as well as a collection of artifacts gathered from the family's worldwide travels. These include a saber from Mexico and the petrified head of an Australian crocodile.
"I think," notes Cooper, "you can learn a lot about Clint by just walking into his office."
It's a lesson she has taken to heart. Though she left college early to put her husband through school, she later returned to her own undergraduate studies as an adult. "I remember sitting in a freshman course in my mid-20s," she says. "All the freshmen hated it, but I loved it."
Thanks to Erickson, SPU freshmen are more likely to enjoy their first classes. She received the President's Award for Excellence for her work as one of the chief architects of the University's new general education program -- The Common Curriculum -- which was launched in September 1998.
Les Steele, professor of religion and member of the Common Curriculum Task Force, thinks Erickson had the right credentials for the job. "As a professor, she had the confidence of the faculty. As a capable administrator, she had the necessary skills. She also has a real sensitivity to students and how they learn.
"What Joyce has been able to do is create both a process and a product, then see it through," says Steele. "Her genius has been in the implementation. The complexities of transition from old to new was an enormous task and she did an incredible job."
Erickson is proud of her efforts with the Common Curriculum, and administration is one of her strong suits. But she is also a respected and beloved professor. Next May, she'll co-teach British Quarter, ushering students around the British Isles while studying the "Moderns," including D.H. Lawrence and James Joyce.
Erickson impresses many of her colleagues with her ability to play many roles and to do so with grace. "Joyce is a role model for other women faculty," says Susan Gallagher, a colleague and professor of English. "She is a teacher, yet she has a clear sense of a personal life. She's able to maintain both beautifully."
President Eaton calls Joyce Erickson "multi-talented, a professor and administrator of strong convictions, but collaborative, and always committed to community."