offers wild hope to students and faculty willing to ask questions
Children talk about what they want to be when they grow up. Often,
college students focus on what career they’ll have. But
PLU wants to inspire students to think more critically about their
lives with a deeper question:
“What will you do with your one wild
and precious life?”
Directors of a new PLU program borrowed the
line from Mary Oliver’s poem “The Summer Day”
because it fits: “wild” because so much is possible
and unpredictable and the complexities of the world are so great,
and “precious” because the life of each individual
student is vital and full of promise.
The new initiative to help students find
their calling has been named the Wild Hope Project. The university
has always worked on the premise that each individual is a gift.
With a $2 million grant from the Lilly Foundation, this five-year
project will help students use their gifts and find their meaning
and purpose in life, said Paul Menzel, philosophy professor and
The project will challenge the university
to grapple with vocation in an intellectually rich way, to nurture
students to claim meaning and purpose for their lives and to cultivate
faculty and staff to help facilitate understanding by students,
Menzel said. Among other things, the grant will allow the university
to offer enhanced service-learning courses, a more provocative
first-year orientation program, study seminars for faculty and
more personnel in Advising, Career Development and Campus Ministry.
One of the core tenets of PLU’s mission
is to help students discover their calling – what Martin
Luther referred to as “vocation” – and to find
ways to use their talents to serve others.
“We wish for every student a dynamic,
purpose-filled life that, regardless of specific career or avenue
of service, is charged and energized by a lively sense of calling
and vocation and a commitment to action,” President Loren
J. Anderson said.
The Wild Hope Project was the subject of
the University Fall Conference, and the consultant who helped
write the grant proposal spoke about the importance of nurturing
“You are going to be a mentoring community,
a mentoring environment,” Sharon Parks told faculty and
Parks is associate director and on faculty
at the Whidbey Institute in Clinton, Wash. She has been an associate
professor at the Harvard Divinity School and the Weston Jesuit
School of Theology and served in faculty and research positions
in leadership and ethics at the Harvard Business School and the
Kennedy School of Government. She is the author of “Big
Questions, Worthy Dreams: Mentoring Young Adults in Their Search
for Meaning, Purpose and Faith” and co-author of “Common
Fire: Leading Lives of Commitment in a Complex World.”
Students have big questions about how poverty,
crime, environment, politics, family and debt affect the world
and their lives, she says. While trying to succeed in school and
preparing for the future, the core questions about what they can
do and contribute can be overlooked.
Parks said students need mentors who help
them examine such questions, while recognizing and nurturing their
talents and dreams. Good mentoring involves recognizing not just
“who I am” but “who I could be.”
Each person’s unique talents, skills
and dreams make them an individual unlike any other. And when
formulating their dreams, Parks said students should ask themselves,
“Will the dream ultimately bless others?”
“The biggest questions do take us deeper
into the mystery,” she said.
academic roadmap to guide university
Academic excellence and financial strength
are two core aspirations of PLU 2010. To reach them, PLU is developing
an academic roadmap to provide “driving directions for the
preferred route” to a strengthened, academically and financially
viable academic program. Since January, various members of the
faculty and administration have taken steps toward the creation
of the map, with the goal of creating a new academic vision.
“To distinguish ourselves in the competitive
higher education marketplace, to build on our academic strengths,
and to address the challenges we face forthrightly, we need to
‘go deep’ into ourselves – recreating a Rose
Window for the 21st century,” Provost James Pence said.
In comparing the academic program to the PLU logo, Pence urged
a re-examination of curriculum and academic structure in light
of traditional commitments.
At Fall Conference, Pence outlined several
strategies for grappling with difficult changes such as the possibility
of adding or removing academic programs to best meet curricular
and financial needs. “Can we make a curriculum that is distinctively
us?” Pence asked.
Revising a quote from Martin Luther King
Jr., he said PLU is working in the “fierce urgency of the
curricular now,” and that changes will come.
The provost has asked for input on the development
of the roadmap from the Faculty Assembly, the Faculty Executive
Committee, the Faculty Affairs Committee, the Educational Policies
Committee, the Academic Deans’ Council, the Academic Support
Council, the Graduate Council and other individuals.
Chemistry professor Dean
a $150,000 National Science Foundation-Research in Undergraduate
Institutions grant that will fund his research in polymer blends
for another three years. Waldow has had two successful three-year
RUI grants already, funding a total of 15 summer research students.
The current grant will fund 10 summer research projects through
Mathematics professor Bryan Dorner received
National Science Foundation Course, Curriculum and Laboratory
Improvement award to introduce new ways to teach calculus. Faculty
members Daniel Heath, Jessica Sklar and Richard
Louie are also
Anthropology professor Laura Klein’s book “Women and Men in World Cultures” (McGraw-Hill,
2004) was released in October.
Manning, assistant professor of history,
won the annual C. Vann Woodward Dissertation Prize from the Southern
Historical Association. The award is for the best dissertation
on some aspect of southern history. Manning’s 2002 dissertation,
“What This Cruel War Was Over: Why Union and Confederate
Soldiers Thought They Were Fighting the Civil War” compares
what Union and Confederate enlisted soldiers believed caused the
war and traces how their ideas about what the war should achieve
changed over time.
Psychology professor John Moritsugu is a
recipient of the Distinguished Contribution Award from the Asian
American Psychological Association. He was recognized for his
outstanding and meritorious contributions to the Asian American
Page, senior development director of
gift planning, gave a presentation at the 15th annual Northwest
Planned Giving Conference in Portland, Ore., on “Fundamentals
of a Strong Donor Call.” About 200 fundraising professionals
Two PLU administrators are serving with the
Association of American Colleges and Universities. Provost Jim
Pence is a member of the AAC&U Board of Directors. Janet
director of the Wang Center for International Programs, is a member
of the Editorial Advisory Board for the organization’s magazine
Liberal Education. Pence wrote an article for Liberal Education,
one of the organization’s publications, this fall.
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