Seattle Pacific University (Visited 6/21/17)
SPU is Christian university affiliated with the Free Methodists. They hope people committed to faith – in whatever form that means to them – will come here. “If they are connected to their faith, great. If not, we hope they understand why other people have theirs. We want people to engage with people who are different. Our faith compels us to be a different type of institution and to be engaged: we engage the culture in order to change the world,” said one of the reps. The YouTube video Celebrating 125 Years at SPU is worth a look (as a side note, a lot of colleges in the area are celebrating their 125th year …).
Knowing that there are plenty of liberal arts schools to choose from, the reps did a good job addressing what sets them apart. They brought up 3 points of distinction:
- Location: “We’re in a major city but tucked into a safe neighborhood of Queen Anne Hill with connections to local business. Ten Fortune 500 companies are here. Amazon is a 10 minute walk away.”
Rigorous academics and good resources: “We own half of Blakely Island in the San Juans for research.”
- Transformational Experiences: “Christianity is at the core. Faculty and staff have to sign a faith statement, but students do not. We appreciate all the places they’re coming from.”
About 80% of the students do self-identify as Christian. There is a lifestyle expectation here, including not drinking on campus. As part of the Common Curriculum, students need to take a series of 3 religion classes including a Scriptures class. “We’re graded on how well we interact with the material, not if we believe it,” said one of the students. University Series: Formation (of the church), Scriptures, and Theology (why do we believe what we believe? What does it mean to be a Christian?).
The climate on campus is one of acceptance. “We even have an active LGBTQ group which some people don’t expect at a Christian college,” said a student. Like much of the Pacific Northwest, the overall atmosphere is relatively liberal, but conservatives have a home here, too. “We like having discussions.” Campus is active, and the city is even to navigate. “There’s no need for a car here. I’d recommend a bike if anything,” said the tour guide.
Currently, SPU is granting enough PhDs in relation to the undergrad population to be classified as a National R3 university. “We train students to solve problems,” said a faculty member. “We’re small enough to be intimate but large enough to offer the same breadth and depth as a larger university.” Academics are strong across the board, but some of their particular strengths are:
Pre-med students get into medical schools at a 95% acceptance rate with most students scoring in the 90th percentile on the MCAT.
- Nursing boasts a 100% employment (and most nursing students get multiple offers before graduation).
- Theater: “This is the 3rd most important theater city in the country. The PT faculty in the arts are very strong. They’re able to offer all they do because of location.
- Music Therapy – take 2 classes then apply. There are about 20 spots available per quarter.
- Engineering majors participate in year long design projects.
Unusual Majors and minors include:
- Applied Human Biology (College of Arts and Sciences)
- Coaching Sciences (College of Health Sciences)
- Global Development (School of Business)
- Reconciliation Studies minor (School of Theology)
- Costume Design and Production (Department of Theater)
- Geopolitics minor (School of Business)
- Global and Urban Ministries minor (School of Theology)