Seattle Pacific University: Connections Alumni News

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Winter 2011 | Volume 5, Issue 1

Homecoming 2011

A Little Friendly Competition

President Philip EatonWith vigor and good-natured rivalry, the Homecoming reunion classes of '66, '86, and '91 have challenged one another to unleash their inner donor. To honor their class and support student scholarships at Seattle Pacific University, they are in a giving mood.

Each of the classes has raised the bar on the total percentage of their fellow classmates and graduates that make a gift of any amount. The 2011 goal for each class:

1966 25% (up 2%)
1986 15% (up 3%)
1991 13% (up 6%)

"By giving back to your alma mater you can ensure that SPU continues to provide one of the best Christian higher education experiences in the nation for generations to come!" says University Fund Manager Katie Sims.

Alumni can register online for their reunion event or call 206-281-ALUM (2586). Other classes hosting reunions at Homecoming are 1971, 1976, 1981, 1996, 2001, and 2006. All reunion classes are encouraged to consider supporting the University Fund during 2011. Alumni can make a gift in honor of their reunion year at

The President Would Like a Word With You

President Philip Eaton

President Eaton

Join your other alumni friends at the President's Luncheon, January 22, at Homecoming and Family Weekend. Couple it with your class reunion that afternoon!

You'll hear straight from Philip Eaton's heart as he addresses the subject, "Christians in Exile - And a Vibrant Vision for the Christian University." Eaton is the author of the forthcoming book from InterVarsity Press, Engaging the Culture, Changing the World: The Christian University in a Post-Christian World.

The Alumni Choir and Stephen Newby, director of University Ministries and the Center for Worship, will perform for you and campus chefs will lay out a delicious menu for your dining pleasure at this popular occasion for reflection and dialog. Why not come to the luncheon before heading over to your class reunion?

The luncheon cost is $20 per person. Each guest will receive the complementary CD Psalms: Laments and Meditations by the Worship Arts Ensemble. You may RSVP at 206-281-ALUM or

Theatre's 50th Season Celebration

Scott and Pam Nolte

The Noltes

Homecoming and Family Weekend 2011 is prime time to honor 50 years of live theatre at Seattle Pacific University. A special high-end reception will bring together students, alumni, and guests who have been touched by the commitment and vision that have showcased more than 260 productions over half a century.

The reception in Gwinn Commons is $10 per person and features a tribute to Theatre Department founder James Chapman and 2011 Alumni of the Year Pam and Scott Nolte, co-founders of Taproot Theatre Company. Register now.

Returning in honor of professor and director Chapman are several performances of the iconic musical "Godspell," which in 1974 premiered in the Northwest on the Seattle Pacific College (SPC) stage. Check Homecoming schedule and ticket information.

"Jim was brilliant," says set designer and Professor of Theatre Don Yanik. "Of all the directors I've worked with, he's right at the top."

Alumni Bolster Ties With Centurions

In the interest of forging stronger bonds with students, the Alumni Office coordinated a fall meeting between Alumni Association Board Representative Greg Asimakoupoulos '74, Alumni Office staff, and officers of the Centurions men's service honorary.

"These guys are growing followers of Jesus who aren't afraid to be transparent with each other," says Asimakoupoulos, himself president of Centurions his senior year. "They are proactive in seeking ways to serve off-campus."

Greg Asimakoupoulos

Asimakoupoulos 1974

Centurions is a group of senior men devoted to Christian community and the service such identity demands. Centurions President Rob Henry expressed the group's desire to reconnect with Centurion alumni worldwide and seek their wisdom as life and career mentors.

An opportunity wasn't long in coming. In November, 13 Centurions in their distinctive blue blazers served as ushers at Mercer Island (Washington) Covenant Church (MICC). The occasion was the memorial service for Marie Ann Swanstrom, wife of deceased Centurions founding advisor and professor of history, Roy Swanstrom '48. Marie Ann opened her home near campus and baked untold dozens of cookies for decades of weekly Centurion meetings.

"Dr. Swanstrom would have been proud, and it was a real blessing to the rest of the family," says Asimakoupoulos, who is the senior pastor at MICC.

"What a great connection unfolding -- these student leaders with a vision for service and alums who are living out this legacy of service," says Ken Cornell, director of alumni and parent relations. He believes there is great potential for strengthened ties through student leadership and the Alumni Association Board working more closely together.

Ready to Serve

Former SPU President with students in Martin Square

The Alumni Association Board wants to help all Seattle Pacific University alumni feel more connected to their alma mater.

(Left to right) Greg Asimakoupoulos '74, Laila (Olsen '73) Sharpe, Ken Cornell '85, Sharon (Hostetter '63) Wortman, Keith Phillips '56, Kathleen (Blair '58) Mayhle, Bobbie Taylor, Molly (Montgomery '92) Sheffield, *Jennifer (Feddern '91) Kenney, Doug Sheldon '81, Linda (Warren '82) Nolte, Dawn (Flohr '81) Zook, Chris Sharpe '06, and Greg Hunter '92. Not pictured: Gary Newbill '64 and Karen (Vidger '74) Teel.

*Alumni Board President

SPU Moms and Students Connect

Lori Johnson and daughter Emily

  The Johnsons

Among the 250 mothers and their sons and daughters, who attended the second annual SPU Mom's Day in November, was Lori Johnson '82 and her sophomore daughter, Emily.

"Thirty years ago, I chose SPU for many reasons, including its Christian emphasis," says Lori. "Emily had even more options, but also chose SPU for some of the same reasons. There was nothing similar to Mom's Day when I attended. It provided Emily and me connection with other moms, students, and each other in a way my own mom and I never had."

The event was dubbed "The Next Stage" and featured speaker Pam Nolte '76, co-founder of Taproot Theatre Company, who along with husband Scott Nolte '76 comprise the 2011 Alumni of the Year. "I remember Pam and Scott in 'Our Town' when I was a student," says Lori. "It was interesting to hear how Taproot began and how the name was chosen. And the Taproot improv group that performed for us was so talented and funny!"

In addition to lunch and student musical talent, Lori and Emily also enjoyed special greetings from SPU "First Lady" Sharon Eaton.

The day afforded plenty of opportunities for the two Johnsons to relate in ways that Lori says would not have been possible had Emily chosen a different university. Notes Lori, "Each time she mentions the names Ashton (the breathless uphill climb), Weter (the library's moved!), Gwinn (wow, great food!), and others, it brings back so many memories. I can share her experiences more fully because I was there too. There's a sweetness in that."

When Emily, Class of 2013, graduates, she will share her alma mater not only with her mom, but also with her dad, Lawrence Johnson '81, and brother Erik Johnson '08.

Falcons Swoop Down on the Court and the Stands

Men's Basketball

None too quietly, a growing band of Falcon basketball supporters is getting inside players' heads in a good way at live games, and leaping out of their chairs at special geographic receptions for televised Falcon games.

"Little ol' SPU took Division 1 Eastern Washington to the cleaners," says Director of Alumni and Parent Relations Ken Cornell, who on November 2 watched the Division II Falcons best the Eagles 87-82. He was one of 90 boisterous Falcon supporters who traveled to Cheney, Washington, for the action.

They took their stand directly behind the Falcon bench, came decked out in school maroon, and represented a broad range of SPU generations. There were Young Alums and one couple who had graduated in the '50s.

One excited Falcon fan called the Alumni Office ahead and asked for Falcon gear from the SPU Bookstore to be brought along so that she and her contingent could be properly attired.

The night's electrifying win came in the presence of Division 1 Washington State University's head coach Ken Bone, SPU alumnus of 1983 and former Falcons head basketball coach. He and his WSU assistant coach Jeff Hironaka (also a former SPU head coach) drove one-and-a-half hours both ways to be there.

Also in the crowd were several players from Division I Gonzaga University to cheer on their former teammate, now Falcon sophomore in the post position, Andy Poling.

"Call it Falcons on the Road," says Cornell. "These geographic receptions around Falcon basketball keep our alumni connected in a special way." To keep track of where Falcon fans will gather next, call 206-281-ALUM.

Alumni Musicians Back Michael W. Smith

Bauer Family

When you're Michael W. Smith, a Grammy-winning recording artist known for his quality production values, the logistics of finding, assembling, and rehearsing a live orchestra in every city you perform becomes a monumental task.

In the Northwest, Smith found his ideal music man in Seattle Pacific University Wind Symphony Conductor Gerry Marsh. Coordinator of the musicians for Smith's final three 2010 "It's a Wonderful Christmas" concerts, Marsh hired 28 SPU alumni and several current SPU students from the Symphonic Wind Ensemble to form the one orchestra that traveled with Smith and played multiple venues for the holiday concert tour. They were heard in December by thousands of people in Portland, Oregon; Kent, Washington; and Abbotsford, British Columbia.

"It is a terrific introduction to the professional musician's life," says Marsh. "The show is outstanding, but very demanding. We really have to be up for it."

Marsh first met Smith's promoter in 2007 at an SPU Gospel Choir and Wind Symphony concert at Portland's Rolling Hills Community Church. "He was impressed with us," says Marsh. "They offered us a contract, we proved ourselves, and we have been a big part of The All-Star Symphony for three seasons."

The demands are not for the faint of heart. There is just one full rehearsal with the entire orchestra and choir. Concert nights extend to 1 or 2 in the morning, then it's up again at 7 to travel to the next venue. Marsh carefully hand-picks his instrumentalists based on instrument need, musical ability, and the highest individual reliability.

"This was my third year to play the Northwest concerts, and it's one of my favorite gigs," says flutist Bethany Walrad '08, sustainability coordinator in Facilities Management at SPU. "The music is impeccably arranged and an absolute blast to play, albeit a bit surreal. Some of the pieces, like "Gloria," are songs I grew up hearing on the radio."

Marsh agrees it's a wonderful experience. "Smith and his entire entourage come on board our bus and personally thank us."

Postmarked Solomon Islands

Postage Stamp

While Lee and Robin (Young) Montgomery, Class of 1991, consider it a high privilege to serve God with Wycliffe Bible Translators in the Solomon Islands, little did they expect the interesting turn of events that came along because of it.

The sovereign government over 1,000 islands approved a new postage stamp commemorating Bible translation, and Robin was asked to help with the design.

From her rough sketch, made with the aid of photos of various Bible translation dedication ceremonies throughout the Solomons, she worked with an illustration artist, graphic artist, and the Philatelic Bureau to create a beautiful set of four stamps that were launched into circulation last September.

At the official first day of issue ceremony, Robin spoke before the prime minister, the governor general, and other guests about the work of Bible literacy in translating Scripture into a number of the country's different vernacular languages. They include Bughotu, Kahua, and the most widely spoken, Pijin. Out of the islands population of 510,000, more than 90 percent attend church.

Robin, who home-schools their three children, says that as a literacy consultant Lee works with the national government, local churches, and NGO literacy agencies to provide training for literacy teachers and trainers. Currently, he oversees the audio recording of the New Testament in Bughotu.

At SPU, the Montgomerys were challenged to serve both locally and globally through Urban Involvement and SPRINT. Lee served with SPRINT in Mexico and Robin on Canada's Vancouver Island. On campus, both were student ministry coordinators.

"SPU discipleship groups strengthened our faith," says Robin. "Some of our former group members are our prayer and financial supporters today."

Have You Seen the New Response?

Response Cover

Response magazine has a refreshed look! New magazine sections go in-depth into subjects such as the Bible and theology, arts and culture, and global and urban issues. A revamped alumni section features alumni profiles, photos from the SPU archives, and, as always, news of your classmates in the ever-popular Footnotes section. Pick up a copy of the print magazine at the Alumni Center today, or email to request a subscription.

Response online has also gotten a facelift online. Browse the print issue, view a slideshow of the SPU organic garden, and read an exclusive interview with Walden Media founder Michael Flaherty about the new Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie adaptation.


Did You Know?

At Gwinn Commons Ultimate Dining, the Native American Heritage Month of November was celebrated at lunch on Thursdays with Chili Fry Bread, Navajo Tacos, and Lamb and Green Chili Stew. Join us for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and see what you're missing!

SPRINT will connect SPU alumni with the country hosts who welcome SPU students for mission stays every year. Several of those hosts need interns. If interested in an internship, contact SPRINT Coordinator Michael Richards, or 360-461-2200.

In the early '70s, Professor of Music Wayne Johnson was the featured piano soloist with the famed United States Army Field Band and Soldiers' Chorus of Washington, D.C.

Lectio Goes Live at Homecoming

On the Friday of Homecoming and Family Weekend, January 21, 2011, "Lectio Live!" will feature Associate Professor of Theology Dave Nienhuis providing a spoken taste of the Gospel of St. Matthew, the Winter Quarter emphasis of SPU's popular new Guided Bible Reading. Join with the thousands who already receive free Lectio online, then come gain a refreshing inside view at Homecoming. "Lectio Live!" begins at 1 p.m. on the Second Floor, Fine Center, First Free Methodist Church (adjacent to campus).

Lectio, which launched Autumn Quarter and quickly rose to 2,475 total subscribers by December 1, has received hits from at least 20 countries. They include China, Mozambique, Paraguay, Serbia, and Tajikistan. The weekly studies in Genesis and Exodus presented by Professor of Theology Frank Spina were used in gatherings across campus from Bible studies in the residence halls to faculty small groups. Off-campus, Shoreline (Washington) Free Methodist Church incorporated Lectio into the fall sermon series and other congregations indicate they will do the same with the spring Lectio.

One SPU alum, a missionary in Africa, emailed appreciation for Lectio, calling it "an encouragement while far from my home faith community ... "

We Get Letters

To Linda Nolte, Office Manager, Alumni Office:

Thank you, thank you, thank you! At last I can enjoy a good night's sleep. For 50 long years, I have often jerked awake out of a bad dream, wondering if I had really graduated from college or had actually gone to college at all.

I had no diploma to hold in my hand or hang on the wall as concrete proof. But now, thanks to your generous donation of time and your remarkable sleuthing talents, all of that is behind me. Thank you for securing the diploma for me. (You are) a lady who does what she says she will do!

Denny Noble '60
Libby, Montana

Dear Editor,

Thank you so much for the article regarding Camp Casey (Autumn 2010, "Monument Honors Camp Casey Visionary"). I fondly recall two experiences during the 1955-57 school years. One was the Student Council Retreat and the other was Dr. Virginia Hoffman and her "Camping Class."

SPU has truly been under our Lord's "watchful eye" as he guided her through very talented leaders and afforded untold expansions supported by generous gifts from corporations, businessmen, students, faculty, and alumni.

It has been exciting to visit and share your vision of future projects, especially since about a dozen of my former fourth-grade students from Saginaw, Michigan, now work in various Seattle industries … several even live on Queen Anne Hill!

Myrna (Edsall '57) Cammin
Saginaw, Michigan

Hi Alumni Office:

I am really excited about the theatre reunion on January 22 at this year's Homecoming. I was Speech Arts chairman my senior year, which at that time was an appointed student body office.

(It was) a really interesting time holding meetings with James Chapman and his colleague and my major professor (Eric) Hanson doing a running comedy act while I was trying to get things done.

My wife, Joan, and I saw Chapman's original production. My daughter, Megan Becker, is the choreographer for (Homecoming 2011's) revival production of "Godspell." It is so rewarding for me to have my own daughter involved at SPU. This should be a special event for us Beckers.

Jim Becker '66
Spokane, Washington

Roll Honors the Faithful

Though times remain economically difficult for many, thousands of individuals, corporations, and foundations continue to make Seattle Pacific University a priority for their charitable giving.

You're invited to visit the 2009-10 Honor Roll of Donors and peruse the roll call of generosity. Perhaps your name is included. View the student thank-you video and join with students in giving thanks for all who form the network of support that keeps SPU at the forefront of Christian higher education.

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Acts as initial University point of contact for all inquiries or services related to undergraduate and graduate students with disabilities. Manages all aspects of documentation and accommodation requirements, including evaluating and recommending reasonable accommodations and support.

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For more information and to apply for these and other open positions at SPU, see


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