The Falcon   |   Volume 83, Issue 53

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New President Honors Past and Looks Forward in first address to SPU


Published: December 31 1969

To avoid ending up like a steam-engine railroad town in the age of diesel engines, Seattle Pacific University needs to innovate for the future, Dr. Daniel J. Martin said in his first open speech to the SPU community as the new university president.

“Our history and current state is something to be proud of,” Martin said to more than 1,000 students, faculty and staff at First Free Methodist Church on Wednesday morning. “But we need to honor the past by looking forward.”

Martin compared SPU to the town of Caliente, Nevada—a once-thriving railroad town that was abandoned when new diesel engines required trains to make less stops. He said SPU is on secure financial footing but needs innovation to avoid being left behind by changing times.

“Caliente didn’t change when they had the best opportunity to do so,” Martin said. “They weren’t proactive.”

“Tradition stands on the achievements of the past but also looks ahead,” Martin said.

Martin started his speech about the current and future state of SPU by playing a Conan O’ Brien clip poking fun at Mitt Romney and Barack Obama’s campaign promises.

“I love pop culture,” Martin said in a post-speech interview. “I try to understand the audience and see what could inform them in a helpful way.”

Junior Rachael Troop said Martin’s age-appropriate references helped keep her focused during the speech, despite being exhausted from two weeks of Peer Advisor training.

“He didn’t drone on,” Troop said. “He was hip.”

Martin spent five years as president of Mount Vernon Nazarene University before coming to SPU. He holds a law degree from the University of Kansas and two doctorates of higher education from the Universities of Kansas and Pennsylvania.

Before talking about the school’s future, Martin paid tribute to Dr. Philip Eaton’s accomplishments during his 16-year presidency.

“We owe (Eaton) a great debt of gratitude for his life and service here,” Martin said.

For the future, Martin said he’s developed a plan to keep the school on its mission of engaging the culture and changing the world.

Martin said he wanted to keep the school on its mission by utilizing the school’s existing strengths and intellectual capital and investing in people and programs that help students.

“I believe we can change the world individually and collectively,” Martin said. “I’m committed to being the leader SPU needs and expects in these days.”

He also talked about his plan to hire a provost and outlined the hiring process for the new position.

An internal search will begin Sept. 25 and end by Thanksgiving, Martin said. Applications from outside SPU will also be considered for the job, he said.

Dr. Rod Stiling, an Associate Professor of history, said he appreciated Martin’s plans to move the school forward.

“It’s not the time to pull off the road,” Stiling said. “We need to pull out the map and keep going.”

Martin ended his speech with a forward-looking quote from John Wesley, the theologian who founded SPU’s denomination.

“The best is yet to be,” Martin said, quoting Wesley.

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