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Here and Now. New "Commons" brings students, services together in library and Ramstad.

The Mortvedt Library Commons and Ramstad Commons have a friendlier feel

Some services geared toward academic and career growth have been moved and combined in hopes of creating synergy among departments with similar objectives and providing better service to students. The Mortvedt Library Commons and Ramstad Commons also have a friendlier feel.

Those associated with academic support—the Writing Center and Academic Assistance—have moved to the library, where students and advisors can take advantage of the many educational and research opportunities.

Ramstad Commons, similarly, has become a hive of activity, with Academic Advising, Career Development, the Center for Public Service, Cooperative Education, Student Employment and the Volunteer Center all moving under one roof. The premise behind the consolidation is the same—enable students to easily take advantage of the many opportunities before them, all in one place.

“The group seems to be working together very well,” said Pamela Martin, administrative assistant in Career Development. “The communication has never been better.”

PLU President Loren J. Anderson, right, talks with Provost James Pence during a break in the Fall Conference, at which Anderson presented his State of the University address.

President starts off year with message of university’s strength

This fall, the university welcomed an exceptionally well-qualified freshman class of 694 students, the largest class since 1988. Fall enrollment was at more than 3,400 students, well above goals.

That was among the good news President Loren J. Anderson delivered during his 12th State of the University address at the start of the semester. He opened the 114th academic year with a review of the past year, a look at the year ahead and reflections on the university’s broader mission and purpose.

“The overall health of the university is strong, our mission is vital and relevant, our achievements are significant and our possibilities exciting,” Anderson said.

Anderson also reported on the completion of the university’s new long-range plan, PLU 2010: The Next Level of Distinction, which he called an important and clear framework that will help shape university priorities and directions over the next several years in areas such as student engagement, campus culture, academic distinction and resource allocation.

He concluded his remarks with a report on his trip to Namibia earlier this year and a visit with eight PLU graduates who are serving their native country in key positions from foreign affairs to broadcast news.

He called them good examples of the difference PLU is making for all
students who are “preparing themselves for leadership, honing their sense of call, equipping themselves to be life-long learners, defining their goals and dreams.”
Read the full text of Anderson’s remarks.

Campus hosts student science research conference

Top student researchers from around the Northwest converged on PLU in November for two days’ sharing of scientific research.

The Division of Natural Sciences hosted the 12th Regional Conference on Undergraduate Research of the Murdock College Science Research Program. About 450 students from more than 20 schools attended. Many of the schools, including PLU, have received grants from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust for summer research.

The Trust sponsors the conference at a different institution every year, so students and professors can see the results of each other’s work.

Four PLU researchers were among the 16 chosen to give formal oral presentations on their projects. Kirsten Helleson ’04 and Garrett Luettgen ’05 spoke on their work with biology professor Ann Auman on a project examining nitrogen-fixing bacteria in Lake Washington. Kjersta Larson ’04 and Erin Hoge ’04 presented their work with former chemistry professor Kristy Mardis on identifying molecules that might be used as “capsules” for delivering drugs to specific parts of the body. Other students, including those from PLU, filled Rieke Science Center with poster presentations of their work.

“It’s wonderful to see student work of such high caliber, and it was an honor for PLU to host the students from the region and the Murdock trustees,” President Loren J. Anderson said.

The Murdock Trust has committed $3.8 million to PLU, mostly for student research and other programs in the Natural Sciences.

New MFA program in creative writing starts next summer

Writers who want to perfect their craft and earn a graduate degree but can’t devote themselves to school full-time have an alternative with an innovative program starting at PLU.

The Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing includes in-depth workshops during the summer, while writers work on their own and correspond with a mentor throughout the year. The program, the first of its kind in the Pacific Northwest, is scheduled to start in summer 2004.

“This is a writer-rich region,” said professor Tom Campbell, chairman of the English Department. “The idea is to get a lot of great writers together here in Tacoma to bring increased visibility and energy to writing and writers.”

In addition to PLU faculty, outside writers will teach in the selective program. Stan Rubin, who served as director of the Brockport Writers Forum and Videotape Library at State University of New York for 20 years and now lives in Port Townsend, Wash., will serve as director.

The program is intended for independent adults who wish to develop and pursue careers as writers, focusing on poetry, fiction or creative non-fiction. Participants will attend four intensive 10-day summer residencies consisting of workshops, lectures, mini-courses and will design a personal course of study with a chosen mentor for the following academic year. The deadline for application is Feb. 15. More information.

Speakers explore issues of faith, character and peace at lectures this fall

In a time when many Americans are searching for truth in government, former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon addressed the issue of character among leaders at a lecture at PLU in November.

Simon, a former presidential candidate, is professor of political science at Southern Illinois University and director of SIU’s Public Policy Institute. The institute says he leads the effort to provide objective and earnest assessments of public policy and their implications for government leaders, journalists and society at large.

Jim Wallis, executive director and editor of “Sojourners” – Christians for justice and peace – came to campus to discuss “Why and How We Commit to Peace.” Wallis is recognized as the country’s foremost Christian activist and is a commentator on ethics and public life and a spokesperson for faith-based initiatives to overcome poverty. In 1995, he formed Call to Renewal, a national federation of churches, denominations and faith-based organizations working to overcome poverty.

Also visiting PLU this semester was Walter Wink, who spoke on “The Myth of Redemptive Violence” and “ God as Human.” Wink is an internationally known lecturer and leader of nonviolence workshops who has worked in South Africa, the former East Germany, Northern Ireland, Palestine and other areas in crisis.

A professor who has researched language development gave the annual Bjug Harstad Memorial Lecture on the evolving Norwegian language. Lars Anders Kulbrandstad, a faculty member at Hedmark University College of Norway, presented “The Influx of English and Other Current Issues in Norwegian Language Policy.” Norwegian is one of the few languages in the world that has been altered through a series of language reforms mandated by the government with the objective of creating one national language.

The annual lecture is given in honor of PLU’s founder.

Campus Concierge answers questions, offers convenience

A full-service concierge catering to students, staff and visitors has replaced what was the PLU LuteCard and Information Center. And, just as it is in finer hotels, the new program serves as a clearinghouse for all things Lute.

The concierge was initiated last summer, when the LuteCard Information Center took over the services of the campus operator from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. According to Valerie Seeley, who coordinates the new service, the idea was to compile a database of useful information—such as the best nearby hotels, the most popular local pizza, or a good place to take children while visiting Tacoma—and make it available to callers. This, combined with the center’s usual services—PLU ticket outlet, meal-plan customization, and campus and community information center—ensures that students, staff and visitors can get the latest information on PLU and its surroundings.

It offers more as well, including just about anything a student or conference attendee might need in a pinch, from dictionaries and blue books to bandages and sewing kits. In addition, the Campus Concierge provides conveniences such as fax services, modem hookups and United Parcel Service drop-off and pick-up.
The concierge can be reached at 253-535-6900.

New savings plan lets parents buy future tuition at today's prices

New savings plan lets parents buy future tuition at today’s prices A new savings plan gives students and parents another tool to ensure they get the most out of their educational dollar.

The Independent 529 Plan, named after the IRS code for college-savings plans, allows people to prepay college tuition into a tax-advantaged fund that can be used at PLU or other private universities.

While the plan does not guarantee university entrance, it does guarantee that the percentage cost of tuition will be locked in at the time of purchase, not when the certificate is redeemed. A participant who prepays the equivalent 100 percent of PLU’s 2003 tuition, for instance, will have 100 percent tuition costs covered whenever that future Lute attends school.

“This exciting new program allows families to save for college by investing in tuition certificates,” said Sheri Tonn, vice president of finance and operations. “If I were a parent or grandparent hoping to send a student to PLU, I’d invest in this plan.”
And if the student attends a public institution or a private university that does not participate in the plan, the money can still be used for tuition, without the locked-in cost savings, however.

For more information, visit or contact Kay Soltis, director of Financial Aid at 253-535-8725.

New deans appointed and new faculty welcomed

Two acting deans were appointed, and 26 new faculty members joined the university this fall.

Communication professor Ed Inch was named acting dean of the School of the Arts. He replaces Kit Spicer, who took a position with a liberal arts college on the East Coast. Professor Thad Barnowe is acting dean of the School of Business. He takes over for Don Bell, who retired from the position in May.

New faculty members are: Carl B. Anderson, visiting assistant professor of theater; Claudia J. Berguson, assistant professor of languages and literatures; Amy Bueler-Fong, clinical assistant professor of nursing; Valerie A. Burke, visiting assistant professor of chemistry;

Suzanne J. Crawford, assistant professor of religion; Emily F. Davidson, lecturer for languages and literatures; Janet R. Dubois, clinical assistant professor of nursing; Larry Edison, visiting professor of computer science and computer engineering; Gary T. Hiam, visiting instructor of sociology and social work;

Lynn E. Hunnicutt, assistant professor of economics; Stephanie A. Kerr, visiting instructor of physical education; Chandra M. Manning, assistant professor of history; Cherie L. McCann, clinical assistant professor of nursing; Kathleen J. Ridgeway, clinical assistant professor of nursing; Dana E. Rush, lecturer of physics;

Kevin L. Sager, visiting assistant professor of communication and theatre; Scott L. Taube, visiting assistant professor of music; Fred L. Tobiason, visiting professor of chemistry; Peter L. Trudinger, assistant professor of religion; Janet M. Weiss, visiting assistant professor of education; Robert M. Wells, visiting instructor of communication and theatre; Stephen T. Woolworth, visiting assistant professor of education.

Visiting International Scholars are Yuichiro Ehara from Hosei University; Ruojuan Duan from Kunming Medical College; Zhengjian Huang of Zhongshan University, and Wuyang Zhuo of Sichuan University.

New online community debuts next month; check your record now

Starting next month, alumni can update their own information through the Web and search for friends or jobs through an electronic directory. The PLU Alumni Online Community will go “live” Jan. 15, 2004.

The online community includes a searchable online directory of all alumni; career mentoring and job posting at the Career Center, a permanent PLU email address and a community Yellow Pages. That means you can find classmates easily and can use the directory to search alumni by class years, ZIP codes, employment fields, college clubs and more. In addition, you will be able to update your own record online and submit information for your alumni magazine.

To protect your security and privacy, these steps have been taken:

  • Password protection—Only PLU alumni will have access to the system. Users will be prompted to provide specific information, including a unique personal access code. This code is the 10-digit number above your name on the mailing label of Scene (the number begins with several 0s). After your first visit to the system, you can select your own password.

  • Private review before the system goes live on Jan. 15. Until then, the only record each alum will be able to see is his or her own. The record shows your business address and business phone information and home address. You will have the ability to add to that information, or reduce it, if you prefer.

  • You control your record and have complete flexibility over what is displayed. If you prefer, you can choose not to be listed. Only you can make changes to your record and no one can download it for spam email, mass mailings or other system abuses.

For access go to, select Online Community, and follow the prompts. Please take a look at your record between now and Jan. 15 and make any changes you would like. If your record isn’t current, make any updates to the directory or call the alumni office for help. If you can’t access the Web or have any other questions or comments, call 800-ALUM-PLU or email

Next Section: Life of the mind


Photo Credits

By: Jordan Hartman ’02


 Back to top  Winter 2003 Scene Copyright 2003 Pacific Lutheran University  Credits ~ Last Updated 12-05-2003 ~ Comments