Seattle Pacific University

Coordinates: 47°39′01″N 122°21′42″W / 47.65019°N 122.361667°W / 47.65019; -122.361667
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Seattle Pacific University
Former names
Seattle Seminary (1891–1913)
Seattle Seminary and College (1913–1915)
Seattle Pacific College (1915–1977)
MottoEngaging the Culture, Changing the World
TypePrivate university
Established1891; 133 years ago (1891)
Religious affiliation
Free Methodist Church
Endowment$126.6 million (2020)[1]
PresidentDeana L. Porterfield
Students2,662 (2023)[2]
Undergraduates2,085 (2023)[2]
Postgraduates577 (2023)[2]

47°39′01″N 122°21′42″W / 47.65019°N 122.361667°W / 47.65019; -122.361667
CampusUrban, 43 acres (170,000 m2)
Colors   Maroon and white
Sporting affiliations
MascotTalon the Falcon

Seattle Pacific University (SPU) is a private Christian university in Seattle, Washington. It was founded in 1891 in conjunction with the Oregon and Washington Conference of the Free Methodist Church as the Seattle Seminary. It became the Seattle Seminary and College in 1913, adopting the name Seattle Pacific College two years later, and received its current name in 1977.


Seattle Pacific University was founded in 1891 by Free Methodist pioneers to train missionaries for overseas service.[3]

On June 5, 2014, a shooting occurred in the Otto Miller Hall, during which one student was killed and two other students were injured. The suspect was not a student at the school and had no connection to the university.[4] The gunman was stopped by student Jon Meis, who used pepper spray to disarm him.[5] Meis received a Citizen Honors award from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society in 2015 for his work in stopping the shooting.[6] On November 16, 2016, the gunman was convicted in the shooting[7] and sentenced to 112 years in prison.[8]

In May 2022, the university's board of trustees voted to keep rules in place that ban LGBTQ people from becoming employees, prompting student protests. The vote by the board of trustees occurred in wake of faculty voting with an 80% majority no-confidence in the board regarding this issue.[9] Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced on July 29 that his office was investigating the university's hiring practices, describing them as potentially illegal and discriminatory.[10] In turn, the university filed a lawsuit against the attorney general, saying that the investigation violates its religious freedom.[11]

On January 26, 2023 it was announced that current Roberts Wesleyan University President Deanna Porterfield would conclude her work in June at the institution in Rochester, NY. She assumed the role of President at Seattle Pacific University later on in 2023.

On June 16, 2023, the university's interim president, Peter Menjares, announced in an email to faculty that it would cut 40 percent of its budget academic programs via steep faculty layoffs; university leadership blamed post-COVID-19 pandemic national trends in higher education for declining enrollment, while faculty blamed the university's anti-LGBTQ+ faculty policy for exacerbating the issue. The cuts are due to take effect upon the expiration of contracts the following June.[12]

Previous names[edit]

As the school developed from a seminary of the Free Methodist Church to its current status as a doctoral degree granting institution, its name has changed over time to befit its changes in status:[3]

  • 1891 – Seattle Seminary
  • 1913 – Seattle Seminary and College
  • 1915 – Seattle Pacific College/Seattle Pacific Christian College
  • 1977 – Seattle Pacific University


Academic rankings
U.S. News & World Report[14]196
Washington Monthly[15]195
WSJ/College Pulse[16]343
The SPU Clock Tower

The university's academic programs are divided into one college and five schools:

  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • School of Business, Government, and Economics
  • School of Education
  • School of Health Sciences
  • School of Psychology, Family and Community
  • School of Theology

Honors program[edit]

SPU offers a four-year alternate series of general education classes for honors students called University Scholars that revolves around a Great Books reading list and the writing of a lengthy senior dissertation. Along with literature classes, the curriculum includes two Faith & Science classes and a Christianity & Scholarship class. The work load is generally very rigorous.

A student in the program takes his or her sequence of University Scholars courses with the same cohort of 40 students for the entire four years. A student may be admitted to the program regardless of major. There are no University Scholars classes scheduled for the fall of junior year so students have the opportunity to study abroad.[17]

Graduate school[edit]

In 2005, SPU launched a MFA low-residency program in Creative Writing featuring distance-learning for graduate writers in Poetry, Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction.[18] The program features a site-specific residency on Whidbey Island, WA. Core faculty include several notable authors including Scott Cairns, Lauren Winner, Gina Ochsner, Sara Zarr, and Mischa Willett.[19] The program maintains an institutional affiliation with Image.


Student enrollment[edit]

As of the 2023 Autumn Quarter:

  • Total enrollment: 2,662
    • Undergraduate students: 2,085
    • Post-baccalaureate students: 19
    • Graduate students: 558
  • Continuing education: 1,154 (2022-2023)[20]

Class size[edit]

  • 80 percent of Autumn Quarter 2018 undergraduate classes had enrollments of 30 or less
  • Student-Faculty Ratio of 13:1 (Based on Common Data Set definition)[20]


SPU Tiffany Loop

The university sits on a 43-acre campus at the northern end of Queen Anne Hill, near the Fremont neighborhood and approximately four miles north of downtown Seattle. Many of the trees on the campus' central Tiffany Loop are among the oldest in the city. SPU also owns and operates two satellite campuses: a wilderness field station specializing in biology on Blakely Island in the San Juan Islands and Camp Casey, a former U.S. military fort re-purposed as a conference and retreat facility on Whidbey Island. Notable buildings on the Seattle campus include:

Alexander and Adelaide Hall[edit]

Alexander Hall
McKinley Theater

Named for the first president of Seattle Pacific University, Alexander Beers, this four-story brick building is home to the School of Theology. The founder's first name, Alexander, was used, as the board did not want a building on campus called "Beers Hall." The building also houses the Sociology and History departments within the College of Arts and Sciences. Alexander Hall is the oldest building on campus, and at the time of the university's founding was the campus' only building. A $6.2-million[21] seismic retrofitting and renovation of the interior office space and chapel was completed in 2014. Next door to Alexander is the main performing arts space on campus, the McKinley Theater.

Demaray Hall/Clocktower[edit]

Demaray Hall is the central academic building at Seattle Pacific University, housing numerous classrooms as well as the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, Student Academic Services and Student Financial Services. Administrative offices, including the offices of the president and provost, are also located in Demaray. The building is named for Calvin Dorr Demaray, president of SPU from 1959 to 1968 and pastor of First Free Methodist Church, from 1948 to 1959.[22]

The clocktower in front of Demaray Hall was given to Seattle Pacific University by the class of 1966. It displays a bas-relief sculpture designed by former Professor of Art Ernst Schwidder, titled "Science, Religion and Humanities," which was brought to fruition by former Professor of Art Larry Metcalf and three of his students. The cast-stone relief panels depict various areas of study: the physical sciences, social sciences and humanities. Its symbols are drawn from American Pima, Arabic, Aztec, Babylonian, Egyptian and Greek cultures.[23][24]

Gwinn Commons[edit]

Gwinn Commons

Gwinn Commons is home to three different points of interest. The Crossroads at Gwinn Commons is the main dining hall on campus. Upstairs is the university's main, multi-use location. A pair of large rooms, the Queen Anne Room (named after the neighborhood in which SPU is located) and the Cascade Room (named after the mountain range that can be seen from Upper Gwinn Commons) can each hold up to 500 people. Multiple functions are held in Upper Gwinn, ranging from Group (a Wednesday night worship service), admissions events, lectures, board meetings and more. The President's Dining room is also located here. In addition, there is the Corner Place Market, or C-Store, which holds Einstein Bros. Bagels and also a market where students can purchase various daily necessities. Wells Gwinn, for whom the dining facility is named, served 32 years on the Seattle Pacific Board of Trustees.

Ames Library[edit]

Ames Library (View from Lower Campus)

The Ames Library was completed in 1994. Housing over 250,000 volumes and 1,300 print periodicals, it grows by 6,000 new titles a year. Students, faculty, and alumni have access to the collections of Summit and the Orbis Cascade Alliance, comprising over 30 million items held in Washington and Oregon academic libraries, including the University of Washington. In addition to printed reference materials, the library also has access to myriad electronic databases including JSTOR, ProQuest Direct, EBSCOHost, First Search, and others. Access is available to the university community via login both on and off campus.

Ames Library (View from Upper Campus)

Peterson Hall[edit]

Peterson Hall

Opened in 1904, Peterson Hall is the second-oldest building on campus and houses the School of Education as well as the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences. In the basement is a food lab, as well as a sewing lab. Each month, SPU's food lab plays host to a Community Kitchen - an outreach to the city's homeless population wherein these individuals join with members of the university community in cooking and sharing a common meal.

Student Union Building[edit]

The Student Union Building (commonly known as the "SUB") was built in the 1960s and still serves as a central point where many students gather. On the first floor is the Pacific Collegium, a hub for commuter students. Dining options provided by the on campus dining services can also be found in the SUB. UNICOM, a student-run information desk assists with ticket sales, bus passes, pool passes, among other general information items. ASSP, the student government of SPU has its offices in the SUB along with STUB, the student event programming organization.

Philip W. and Sharon K. Eaton Hall[edit]

SPU's main hard sciences facility houses biology, chemistry and some psychology labs. Built in 2003, it is the most advanced building on campus, complete with an electron microscope, cold room, fully contained greenhouse and LEED Certification. This building is central to those students in the Pre-Professional Health Sciences programs. SPU's pre-med track has become widely known for its annual 90–100% acceptance into medical schools following graduation. On May 23, 2012, the SPU Board of Trustees announced that it named the building in honor of past SPU president Philip W.Eaton and his wife, Sharon.

McKenna Hall[edit]

McKenna Hall

The School of Business, Government, and Economics (SBGE) is located in McKenna Hall. In addition to undergraduate degrees in management, accounting, economics, political science, and global development studies, SBGE also offers three graduate level degrees: Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Information Management, and a Master of Arts in management. SBGE is home to the Center for Applied Learning and the Center for Integrity in Business which examines the intersections of theology and contemporary business.


Seattle Pacific University has five residence halls. The university offers other on-campus residence options, such as the Cremona and Wesley apartments, and other small suite- or apartment-style living facilities for continuing students. All residence halls feature single-gender floors. The five residence halls are Ashton Hall, Hill Hall, Moyer Hall, Emerson Hall, and Arnett Hall.

Freshmen are required to live on campus in the residence halls unless they are living with family. Meal plans are required for all students living in the dorms. Students may leave campus housing when they are 20 years old, have junior class status, have petitioned and been approved to live off campus by Campus Housing, or are graduate students.

SPU Main Gate

Arnett Hall welcomed its inaugural residents in Autumn 2014. As SPU's second smallest dorm with only four resident floors, it features suite-style single, double, and triple rooms, a main lounge on the first floor, and a green roof and roof deck on the fifth floor. Rooms on the upper floors may also feature views of the Lake Washington Ship Canal. It is located in the northwest corner of campus, just across the street from Demaray Hall and just down the hill from Gwinn Commons, SPU's dining hall.

Ashton Hall, opened in 1965, is SPU's largest residence hall with more than 400 students on 6 floors. It was named in honor of Philip F. Ashton, PhD, a psychology professor (1929–1971). The hall is located on the highest point of SPU's campus. Many rooms have views of the campus and the Lake Washington Ship Canal. Annual Ashton Pop events include the Ashton Cup lip-sync contest, the Ashton Art Show, and a formal ball. In previous years the ball has been held at the Space Needle, on an Argosy Cruise, and at Seattle's W Hotel. Ashton Hall is also former home to the Orangemen of 6th West (6w), a notable floor on campus, who display their school spirit by attending men's basketball home games and some away games, leading cheers for the Falcons and occasionally against the referees and the other team.

Emerson Hall, opened in 2001, is the campus's second newest residence hall, featuring suite-style single, double, and triple rooms, card-access security, a main lounge with gas fireplace and Northwest wood beams, and an exercise center. Emerson also has a "Bridges Program", which lets students participate in intentional programs and conversations related to global issues and cross-cultural relationships. Emerson events include a quarterly Coffee House, the Emerson Film Festival, and the Spring Banquet. The hall is named for the street on which it resides.

Hill Hall, which opened in 1962, located in the upper middle of the campus just steps from Gwinn Commons and the SPU Library, is known as the "family" hall for its comfortable atmosphere. It features a newly updated main lounge, the REX athletic center, and the Hill Hall "beach", a grassy area behind the hall popular for outdoor recreation and sunbathing. Hill Hall events include "Decade" Skate (a song-based skit competition), a retreat to Camp Casey, an annual ball, and 6th Hill "Beach Bash." It is named for the Reuben Hill family who donated property to the school for its expansion.

Moyer Hall, opened in 1953 and remodeled in 1983, is located in the center of the campus on the edge of Tiffany Loop. The smallest of the traditional residence halls, Moyer was named in honor of Jacob Moyer, PhD, professor of chemistry and dean (1925–46). The hall's annual events include a fall retreat, an ice-broomball game, a citywide scavenger hunt, and an all-hall banquet. In the past, the ice-broomball game was played between residents of Moyer and Marston Hall (no longer used for housing). This annual "Toilet Bowl" match featured as its trophy a urinal removed from Moyer during the 1983 remodel, which the losing hall was required to display prominently the year following their loss. The 05–06 school year also introduced a new event called The Experience Moyer Project (EMP), which featured musical talent from the hall as well as a variety of other activities.

The university owns multiple additional residences including Bailey, Cremona, 37 West Dravus, Falcon, Wesley and other buildings known by address rather than name are owned and maintained by SPU. These apartments are closer to campus but provide a more independent-living situation. They provide a great aggregate living environment among students. The 35 and 34 West Cremona apartments were remodeled in 2008–09 and 2009–10, respectively, and the Wesley Apartments at Cremona and Dravus, as of the 2011–2012 academic year, are now owned and operated by SPU and include the offices of two of the Residence Life Coordinators. The school sold the Robbins apartments in 2012.[citation needed]


The university's athletic teams participate in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference at the Division II level of the NCAA.

Men's varsity athletics

Women's varsity athletics

  • Basketball
  • Cross country
  • Rowing
  • Soccer
  • Track & field
  • Volleyball

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2020. U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2020 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY19 to FY20 (Report). National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA. February 19, 2021. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "SPU Facts". Seattle Pacific University. Retrieved April 15, 2024.
  3. ^ a b "Our History".
  4. ^ "Paul Lee: a young man with 'infectious positive attitude'". The Seattle Times.
  5. ^ "Court releases video from SPU shooting showing student's heroic actions". KING. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  6. ^ "2 Washington residents, including SPU shooting hero, honored by Congressional Medal of Honor Society". Q13 FOX News. March 26, 2015. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  7. ^ "Man Found Guilty In Fatal Shooting At Seattle University". CBS Seattle. November 16, 2016. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  8. ^ "Aaron Ybarra sentenced to 112 years for deadly shooting at Seattle Pacific University". The Seattle Times. February 17, 2017. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
  9. ^ Franklin, Jonathan (May 30, 2022). "Students protest against a Seattle university's ban on hiring LGBTQ employees". NPR. Archived from the original on May 30, 2022. Retrieved May 30, 2022.
  10. ^ "Attorney General Ferguson confirms civil rights investigation of Seattle Pacific University". Seattle: Office of the Attorney General. July 29, 2022. Archived from the original on August 4, 2022. Retrieved August 5, 2022.
  11. ^ Gasca, Noel; Radke, Bill (August 3, 2022). "Seattle Pacific University sues AG Ferguson over investigation into LGBTQ+ employee ban". KUOW. Archived from the original on August 4, 2022. Retrieved August 5, 2022.
  12. ^ Shapiro, Nina (June 16, 2023). "Seattle Pacific University announces 40% cut to programs, steep layoffs". The Seattle Times. Retrieved June 20, 2023.
  13. ^ "Forbes America's Top Colleges List 2023". Forbes. Retrieved September 22, 2023.
  14. ^ "2023-2024 Best National Universities". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 22, 2023.
  15. ^ "2023 National University Rankings". Washington Monthly. Retrieved February 10, 2024.
  16. ^ "2024 Best Colleges in the U.S." The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse. Retrieved January 27, 2024.
  17. ^ "University Scholars - Seattle Pacific University". Retrieved November 22, 2015.
  18. ^ "MFA in Creative Writing | Seattle Pacific University".
  19. ^ "Seattle Pacific University".
  20. ^ a b "SPU Facts". Seattle Pacific College.
  21. ^ "Alexander Hall Campaign". Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  22. ^ Mcdermott, Terry (November 4, 1992). "C. Dorr Demaray, 91; College Expanded During His Presidency". Seattle Times. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
  23. ^ "SPU Arts Guide". Retrieved March 25, 2013.
  24. ^ "Demaray Hall Pamphlet". Seattle Pacific College Publications. January 1, 1968.
  25. ^ "I'm with the Band - Response - SPU".
  26. ^ "The National Anthem "Full Throttle"". Seattle Pacific University – Alumni. Archived from the original on February 26, 2022. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  27. ^ "Response: The Seattle Pacific University Magazine". Retrieved June 10, 2022.
  28. ^ "Daniel Sandrin Transfers from Portland, Joining Brother". Seattle Pacific University Athletics. May 23, 2000. Retrieved May 9, 2013.
  29. ^ "Korea's Next Hoops Star in Making". The Dong-A Ilbo. January 6, 2007. Retrieved May 9, 2013.

External links[edit]