In recent years, the staff in the Office of Enrollment Services introduced a new way of viewing their work at Seattle Pacific University. They said that they no longer considered themselves responsible for simply recruiting students, but that they were really recruiting satisfied graduates.
I like the new strategy, and it has had a profound impact on campus. That subtle shift in perspective focuses all of our attention on the outcomes of an SPU education. Courses and programs, even teachers and content, cannot be considered separately from the results of our work. Our graduates demand our highest attention.
Talking about Seattle Pacific's mission and vision in this way lifts the University's sights. The stakes become very high indeed, because we are working with precious lives. The investment we make in them is critical, and I believe the outcomes can be extraordinary. Thinking about the kind of graduate we want to send into the world is the weighty work we are doing in the Comprehensive Plan for the 21st Century.
Of course, Seattle Pacific has been shaping the lives of students for more than one hundred years. With this current planning effort, however, we want to be even more intentional. We are shaping a dream for our graduates - and we are dreaming big. We believe SPU graduates can change the world.
What will it take to fulfill such a grand dream? What kind of graduate can become an agent for change?
Let's start with the foundation. We want graduates of Seattle Pacific to have encountered Jesus Christ, to have been "transformed by the renewing of their minds." And we want them to come to "discern what is the will of God - what is good and acceptable and perfect." The kind of education I'm describing intentionally cultivates this process of spiritual formation in student lives.
While not all of our students are Christians, the University extends this powerful invitation to every one because we believe it is the only way for true and lasting change to take place.
Then, of course, our curriculum and programs must be designed so that SPU graduates are both liberally educated and skilled in their chosen field. We seek to provide for them the highest level of competency afforded by a college education. To function successfully and to contribute effectively, our graduates must know how to write, speak, work in groups, and handle quantitative reasoning.They must have mastered a discipline, becoming able historians, philosophers, theologians, engineers, managers, nurses or whatever profession they choose.
If they are going to make a difference in the world, Seattle Pacific graduates need confidence and hope. They must be people who believe in change, people with optimistic determination - and we must do everything possible to give them such strength. Anything that tears down confidence and hope is contrary to our vision.
These will be graduates who understand their own special giftedness, people who leave the University with a glimpse of their own potential, people who understand their own deep calling. We seek to help them grow and develop these unique and various gifts.
These are also graduates who understand something about healthy relationships, marriage and family. Change agents are people of character; people of honesty, integrity, loyalty and humility. We seek to graduate good people, people who know how to serve, people who are trying to make things better for those in need.
Preparing such graduates lies at the heart of SPU's vision of a Christian university for the 21st century. Are these the kind of graduates the world needs? I believe they are. Are these the kind of people who can make a difference in our city and our churches? Absolutely. Now our task is to define and focus our work so carefully that we will be more successful than ever in shaping these kinds of lives.
This is why the stakes are so high. Through our graduates, Seattle Pacific will impact the health of our community, our churches and our world. This is why we are so aggressively and intentionally planning for the future.