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[Pacific Lutheran Scene]


Prepared for the campaign

Building on a tradition that is more than a century old, PLU takes pride in a reputation that relies on qualities that set it apart from other institutions. PLU is committed to providing an education that enriches personal values, embraces critical skills essential to lifelong learning and it offers pragmatic training, enabling graduates to assume leadership roles.

As the institution focuses on the future there are vital signs that point to its success, signs that are the foundation upon which the successful Campaign for Pacific Lutheran University has been built.

A dynamic and effective academic program. The first and fundamental call of the university's long-range plan, PLU 2000, was to press a series of initiatives aimed at strengthening the PLU learning community. The track record on this mandate is clear: 1) there is a new, and much stronger, core curriculum, 2) there have been major changes in each professional school's curriculum, and adjustments and improvements in majors and minors and interdisciplinary programs across campus, 3) in the context of our New American University identity, the institution has a new, clear focus on liberal arts and professional program integration. Active learning, international education, information technology across the curriculum, and service learning are important and distinctive accomplishments.

Achievement of enrollment goals. In 1995, PLU 2000 committed the university to expand its enrollment by roughly 300 students–from 3,300 to more than 3,600. It was a goal based on a judgment that 3,600 to 3,700 students would represent essentially full capacity, given our current faculty, programs, and facilities. The university achieved that objective in the fall of 1998 and has sustained it ever since.

PLU spirit powers fund-drive surge

The following editorial appeared in Tacoma's News Tribune on May 10, 2000.–Editor

Lute spirit may be an essence that can't be bottled, but it's real enough to show up on the bottom line.

Pacific Lutheran University's President Loren J. Anderson believed in Lute spirit when he took over the reins of a financially troubled university in 1992. He called on legions of PLU graduates to show their spirit by opening their hearts and wallets for their alma mater. Anderson was right. Because of his strong leadership and the deep loyalty of PLU graduates, the university has been on a dramatic upswing ever since.

PLU announced last week it has raised more than $65 million during its current $100 million, "The Next Bold Step" fund-raising campaign. The money will be used to build the university's endowment fund and restore and expand facilities.

It's not just the amount raised so far that's amazing. It's the staggering size of some of the gifts. An anonymous PLU graduate chipped in $12 million–one of the largest gifts ever to a Washington school. Then there's the $8 million pledge from PLU alum Don Morken and his family.

That's impressive, especially in light of the university's financial woes of the early 1990s that forced budget cuts, program reductions and layoffs. In 1992, PLU's paltry endowment was only $8 million. Today, the endowment fund is about $45 million. The fund drive would add $55 million more.

Especially for private colleges and universities like PLU, a robust endowment is crucial to institutional survival. Interest from the fund provides a steady source of support–a hedge that's especially important during the inevitable dips in student enrollment or alumni contributions.

PLU's rosy financial picture is a credit to Anderson's leadership and to the loyalty and generosity of PLU graduates. But it's also a credit to the value of the educational experience that created Lute spirit in the first place.

Improving financial strength. The university faced some challenges in the early 1990s–operating deficits, poorly positioned debt, and a small endowment. PLU 2000 called for a long-range effort to strengthen the institution's fiscal condition. The entire community worked and sacrificed to change the trend lines of our financial profile. As a result, 1999-2000 was the seventh consecutive year of balanced operating budgets. The university's endowment fund grew from $6 million in 1990 to $44 million today.

Student satisfaction. PLU 2000 commited the university to be student-centered: 1) the tendency for students to continue with and complete their education at PLU is improving–we refer to it as "retention." Of particular note is a rather dramatic increase in freshman to sophomore retention, 2) in a survey of graduates six months after commencement, our Office of Career Development has found 70 percent of the respondents fully employed, 12 percent employed part-time, 15 percent in graduate school, and 1 percent volunteering. Only 2 percent described themselves as seeking employment, 3) in a recent national student satisfaction survey, PLU students were compared to students at 253 other four-year private institutions. PLU students rated the university more favorably than the norm group on 7 of the 12 dimensions of the inventory: instructional effectiveness, concern for the individual, student-centeredness, campus life, campus climate, service excellence, and campus support services.

External endorsement and recognition. Program examinations by those outside the university family have had positive results: 1) The university has been consistently ranked in the "Top 10" among regional universities by U. S. News and World Report for quality and value, 2) the university has received very high ratings by students on a national Student Satisfaction Inventory for quality of academic experience, vibrant living/learning community, and concern for students, 3) in a recent survey, more than 350 of our constituents revealed their endorsement of the university's educational quality, religious foundation, and exceptional faculty, 4) the university received enthusiastic commendations by the accreditation team of the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges for focused mission, goals and careful planning.

New Long-Range Planning Initiative. Planning is underway to update PLU 2000 under the title of PLU 2010: The Next Level of Distinction. During 1999-2000, feedback is being gathered–through an extensive program of town meetings–from external constituents regarding current practices and future directions for the university. In addition, the university's Long-Range Planning Committee will finalize the procedure and structure for the campus dialogue to be conducted during 2000-2001. The new long-range plan is scheduled to be presented to the Board of Regents in May 2002. Revised action initiatives are anticipated that will guide the university's development for the remainder of the first decade of the 2000s.

Pacific Lutheran University Scene
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