[IMAGE: Pacific Lutheran Scene]
S P R I N G     1 9 9 7


President Anderson 

talks with a student.

December marked the five-year anniversary of the Board of Regents' announcement that Loren J. Anderson would be PLU's 12th president. In this issue of Pacific Lutheran Scene, we take a look at the many accomplishments of the past five years, and delve into the future.

Good News and Great Possibilities
Story by Linda Elliott
Photos by Chris Tumbusch

She almost did a double take.

As a sophomore in 1992, Monica (Ricarte) Hurley was pleasantly surprised to see PLU's brand new president, Loren J. Anderson, jogging on campus one morning. She was also impressed by the fact that he walked through the UC regularly to chat with students and that he kept up with important issues such as the status of financial aid and quality of cafeteria food.

"I shouldn't have been surprised, one of the things we were looking for in a new president was someone who would be out and about and who would be interested in what happened to students on a day-to-day basis," said Hurley, who was on the presidential search committee in the early '90s.

Hurley joined PLU's admissions department after graduating in 1994 and found Anderson was just as interested in the staff and faculty as he was the students.

"You never knew when he was going to walk in the door," she remembered with a laugh. "You could be sitting there with your feet up, writing letters to prospective students and he'd come right in with a question or with a person he thought we'd be interested in following up on."

Hurley, who now works with annual giving and development operations, thought a minute more. "He knows the…pulse of the student," she said, searching for the right words. "He's really concerned with what makes a university a university - and that's students - and the faculty, of course."

David Christian, PLU's director of engineering, agrees.

"He is very down to earth and really relates to those students," said Christian who - as a student for three years in the late '50s and as a PLU employee for an amazing 37 years - has seen his share of presidents come and go.

Christian said he was struck by how quickly Anderson blended in, and credited it to his "knowledge of the cultural language of a university." For instance, during his first year Anderson referred to himself as a freshman, the second year a sophomore, and so on. Last year the Alumni Association presented the president with a class ring - a symbol of his "graduation" after four years.

That exceptional relational style, along with proven planning and team building qualities, were high on the board of regents' list of priorities when it hired Anderson five years ago. Board members were looking for someone with a strong sense of vision, mission and action. They found it in Anderson. In fact, they've been so impressed with his leadership ability and work ethic, that last year they renewed his five-year contract a year early.

"During my tenure as a member of the board of regents, Dr. Anderson's many talents and skills have become readily apparent," said Connye Hartman '63, a past Montana state senator and a regent since 1987.

"Dr. Anderson has a fine sense of interpersonal relationships and is an extraordinarily skilled administrator who delegates responsibilities well. Under his direction, the university's financial status has enjoyed a remarkable resurgence. He is highly respected among the faculty, alumni and students. His talents are recognized by his peers within and without the state."

President Loren J. 

[Image: Habitat for 

Humanity] [Image: Computer 

LEFT: PLU students reach out to serve others through Habitat for Humanity. ABOVE: A Computer User Room replaces the UC bowling alley.

Anderson set high goals for himself and his staff. He instigated the completion of PLU's first comprehensive long-range plan, strengthened the university's financial base, helped map out an aggressive enrollment strategy, oversaw major curriculum changes in numerous areas, presided over the opening of a new music center, and issued a call for technology to play a stronger role on campus.
However, Anderson will be the first to tell you this isn't a one-person job.
He couldn't have done it without dynamic leadership from members of the President's Council, which include vice presidents Jan Brazzell, Bill Frame and Erv Severtson, Provost Paul Menzel, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Laura Polcyn, Director of Church Relations Rick Rouse, Assistant to the President Laura Majovski, and Director of Student Involvement and Leadership Programs and Student Activities Cristina Del Rosario.
"We have a strong leadership group, but way beyond that PLU is blessed with an incredibly gifted and dedicated faculty and staff," said Anderson. "The growth and well-being of our students is their primary focus and they regularly give service above and beyond the call of duty. They are the wellspring of PLU's excellence."

PLU 2000 - a Long-Range Plan

PLU 2000 - the university's long-range planning document - is a perfect example of everyone working toward a common goal. In the fall of 1992, a committee of faculty, staff and students was established to prepare a plan for the university that would address matters of institutional identity and priority.

Led by co-chairs Bill Frame, vice president for finance and operations, and Carolyn Schultz, professor of nursing, the PLU community engaged in hundreds of hours of discussion to determine what the university is today and what we want it to become. The final document was unveiled in January 1995.

PLU 2000 is, primarily, a statement of institutional vision and identity. Vision is found in a new goal statement, "PLU seeks to empower students for lives of thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership and care - for other persons, for their community, and for the earth." Identity is addressed in five axioms:

  • Strengthening the learning community
  • Reaffirming the Lutheran tradition of higher education
  • Emphasizing PLU's motto, "Educating for Lives of Service"
  • Activating the commitment to diversity
  • Supporting the enterprise
"PLU 2000 has become our core planning document," added Anderson. "Because it reflects an unusually high level of consensus about the university's future identity, it has become an effective guide for our daily work."

Focusing Academic Efforts

Though a long-range planning effort, PLU 2000 has provided for short-term planning as well. Among the issues needing immediate attention was the budget. PLU entered the '90s with fewer students than anticipated and found a need to trim the budget. However, rather than dwell on reducing costs in one area, or cutting expenses across the board, the administration decided to build on PLU's strengths.

Thus was born Project Focus. And, four years later, it has produced dramatic results. Faculty and academic leaders supported a strategic plan to close five programs as a means of "focusing" academic effort and resources. Extensive administrative reorganization facilitated gains in both effectiveness and efficiency. Over $3 million was saved for reallocation, and the university's employ was reduced by about 10 percent.

At the same time, additional resources were invested in instructional equipment, faculty and staff salaries, and in renovation and maintenance of facilities.

"The strength and courage of the PLU community has been evident throughout this period of economic recovery. All have been willing to sacrifice and, as a result, the university looks toward a very bright future," said Anderson.

The total impact of Project Focus is reflected in the bottom line of the university's budget. By the end of fiscal '93, PLU had accumulated an operating deficit of $4.3 million. The university had planned to eliminate that deficit by the year 2000. However, an aggressive asset management strategy, an operating surplus and gifts designated for that purpose helped erase the deficit in fiscal '96 - four years ahead of schedule.

Kit Spicer, dean of the school of the arts and a communication professor at PLU since 1978, said the road hasn't been easy but he has appreciated Anderson's candor about the university's future.

"One of the things I've admired about President Anderson is his openness, his willingness to share with the entire PLU community. At the first faculty gathering (five years ago), and since then, he has been very candid with us about budgets and the financial state of the university. I find that refreshing and helpful for us to understand the bigger picture," he said.

Campaign Tops Goal

With an emphasis on endowment, PLU launched a five-year, $52-million fundraising campaign called Make a Lasting Difference in 1992. Through extraordinary efforts on the part of key administrators, volunteers, the board of regents, alumni and others, the campaign has exceeded $64 million. With the endowment now nearing $25 million, PLU is more marketable among its peer institutions.

Other university accomplishments of the last five years include:

  • A plan was developed to build enrollment by 10 percent, from 3,300 to 3,600, over a five-year period. At 3,481 students for the 1996-97 school year, the university is well on its way to reaching that goal.
  • The staff in the areas of billing, financial aid and registration are currently streamlining those functions by creating "one-stop shopping" in a new combined Student Services Center. This effort is being evaluated and adapted to student needs even now to improve on the original idea and function of the center.
  • PLU used to offer two student cafeterias, but closed one after research discovered the one on lower campus served only 20 percent of students yet used 50 percent of the dining services budget. PLU extended the hours of the main cafeteria on upper campus and remodeled the lower campus site into a late-night sandwich and pizza bistro. The move proved popular with students.
  • Anderson was on hand in 1995 to dedicate Phase I (a music education wing and concert hall) of the new Mary Baker Russell Music Center. Thanks to the generosity of Mary Baker Russell and other key donors, construction begins this month on the completion phase of the building, which includes teaching studios and rehearsal and office space. The work should be completed by late 1997.
  • All services and activities for international students and scholars, study abroad programs and on-campus academic international programs were brought under the Center for International Programs umbrella. A Center for Public Service was formed to accommodate volunteer and outreach opportunities.
  • What was a decade ago a smoking lounge in the library is today a state-of-the-art Language Resource Center with computer-aided learning sites. The bowling alley of the '70s in the basement of the UC now sees popular use as a computer user room with both Mac and PC terminals.
  • Classroom upgrades, residence hall renovations, a new track, swimming pool roof repair, the new Names Court basketball floor, landscaping, lighting and other capital projects have enhanced the quality of life at PLU.
[IMAGE: Eastvold 

Chapel] The new campus physical master plan addresses the future use of Eastvold Chapel.
[IMAGE: Summer 

First outdoor commencement,
August 1996.
Even while pausing to celebrate the university's latest accomplishments, Anderson has his eye on the future. In addition to increasing enrollment and reducing expenses, several areas hold his attention - the development of an Academic Plan, a Campus Physical Master Plan, a Technology Plan and a Financial Plan.

The Academic Plan involves an effort to continually redefine PLU's academic mission. Two organizations, the Association of New American Colleges (ANAC), and the Pew Charitable Trust, will play roles in our conversations.

PLU recently joined ANAC, which is comprised of 21 colleges and universities across the country that are similar in size, structure and academic mission to PLU. New American universities are "dedicated to the integration of liberal and professional studies," and are considered somewhere in between a small liberal arts college and a large research university.

"The New American College has quickly become an important association for us," commented Anderson. "It helps capture our unique identity and build on our strengths in the company of a small group of like-minded institutions. It holds the promise of making us better."

The Pew Charitable Trust has for the past decade supported a national conversation (Pew Higher Education Roundtable) on the need for change in higher education. Under Pew's sponsorship, some 400 college and university leaders, including PLU, gathered in 1993 to discuss higher education reform. The conversation continued in 1996 with a much smaller group of 125 universities. PLU was one of only three colleges in the Northwest to participate in the latest round of reform talks.

Approved by the board of regents in January, the Campus Physical Master Plan seeks to guide the best use of our spaces. What should we do with Eastvold once the music offices move to the new music wing next November? Does PLU need a technology building? Should special landscaping projects be designed to link upper and lower campus? The plan, which was supplemented by several on-campus forums, addresses these and other questions of space as the conversations continue.

It is a well-known fact that our world is experiencing a technology tsunami with computers at the front of the wave. PLU's Technology Plan answers the basic questions, who needs what, when, where and why. By giving faculty and students more computer access, we're raising the level of academic activity to better prepare today's students.

Anderson is acutely aware of the role computers and information technology will play on campus. He was the driving force behind creating a position for an executive director of information resources. The new director, Mary Ann Dase, oversees computing and telecommunications departments and the library and is charged with assessing PLU's technology needs.

Dase said she is excited about what the future holds at PLU.

"I have only been at PLU for nine months, but President Anderson has provided me with the opportunity to do some new and innovative projects," she said. "My first meetings with him were to give me a chance to understand what were the priorities for information resources from his position. Instead, what I found was a president who looks for the appropriate challenges facing education and seeks to find the appropriate ones for PLU.

"He is really creative and that makes my job easier," she added.

And, these three plans need to be placed in a funding cycle: this is the role of PLU's newly drafted Financial Plan.

Higher Education Leadership in Washington State

The president is also deeply involved in the state Legislature's conversation about the role of private higher education, particularly the need to increase financial aid. He serves as vice chair of Washington Friends of Higher Education (an association of the 10 independent four-year universities in the state), and is also a board member of National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and next year will chair the Council of Independent Colleges of the ELCA.


"The future presents exciting opportunities," remarked Anderson with contagious enthusiasm. "We stand on the brink of a new millennium. Our campus was planted on tomorrow's world of the Pacific Rim, and this university can only flourish because of the dedication of a remarkable faculty and staff, and students who yearn to make a difference.

"God has blessed PLU beyond measure," he said. "And, 'To whom much has been given, much is expected.'"

President's Council President's Council:
(from left, back row) Erv Severtson, Vice President and Dean of Student Life; Cristina Del Rosario, Director of Student Involvement and Leadership Programs and Student Activities; Loren Anderson, President; Laura Majovski, Assistant to the President; Paul Menzel, Provost.
(from left, front row) Rick Rouse, Director of Church Relations; Jan Brazzell, Vice President of Development and University Relations; Bill Frame, Vice President of Finance and Operations; Laura Polcyn, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid.

President & Mrs. Anderson
Loren and MaryAnn Anderson
The Anderson family - Loren, MaryAnn and Maren - has adjusted well to life at PLU and in the greater Tacoma community. In addition to the activities at PLU, all three of the Andersons find time to be involved in a number of community events.
Nine-year-old Maren is a fourth grader at the Annie Wright Middle School in Tacoma. She is a member of an Odyssey of the Mind team at her school, plays piano and soccer, and sings with the Tahoma Girls Choir and Trinity Lutheran Celebration Singers.
MaryAnn is a member of the executive committee of the Children's Museum of Tacoma and serves on the boards of the Tahoma Girls Choir and the Annie Wright Parents Association.

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Source: Pacific Lutheran Scene, Spring 1997
Edited by: Janet Prichard, Senior Editor (prichajd@plu.edu)
Maintained by: Webmaster (webmaster@plu.edu).
Last Update: 03/31/97