When the PLU Alumni Board adjourned from its meeting this past April, it ushered in an era more than 16 years in the making: It was to be the last meeting Susan (Hildebrand ’76) Stringer would be on the board.
Although no one has been counting, she’s pretty sure her tenure – almost 17 years – makes her the board’s longest-serving member. And when you couple that with the fact that she just completed a nine-year stint on PLU’s Board of Regents, no matter who is counting, Stringer has been an integral part of PLU’s growth in recent years.
2006-2007 Parents Council
This only touches on the impact that she, and the rest of the family, has made on PLU. Susan received her master’s in education while serving as head resident in Hong Hall, and soon thereafter worked for the university as transfer and adult college-entry coordinator. She met her husband, Jeremy Stringer, at PLU, when he was director of residential life. Jeremy, too, remains involved in PLU’s growth – he was just named chair of the Parents Council, even as he serves in Seattle University’s school of education as chair of the department of professional studies and director of the student development administration program. “It is a great opportunity to give back to PLU, particularly in an area where I have some expertise,” he said.
Evidently, these residential-life roots run deep. The Stringers’ youngest of three daughters, Courtney, currently attends PLU, serving as a resident assistant in Foss Hall. Courtney had the unusual honor of being a J-Term resident assistant as a first-year student. She’s been quite involved herself – she’s a global studies and Chinese studies double major, member of the lacrosse team and the Student Alumni Association, and Tel-A-Lute team lead. Indeed, involvement at PLU is a family affair.
Particularly for Susan, these decades-long ties to PLU afford a unique perspective of the changes throughout the years. Susan points to President Loren Anderson’s 2010 long range plan as a key milepost, as well as Peter ’60 and Grace Wang’s $4 million gift to create the Wang Center for International Programs.
“When I was a head resident, we held interpersonal communication workshops,” Susan recalled. “We’d gather 15 students from Hong Kong and 15 U.S. students from campus, and then we’d take them away for the weekend. Our measure for success was based on whether the international students had taught the American students ‘Row, Row Your Boat’ in Chinese.”
How small programs like that have blossomed in the following years is evidenced – and nurtured – by the Wangs’ gift. Susan doesn’t have to look far to see how that growth has come full circle: Courtney will be spending the upcoming fall semester studying with many other PLU students in Chengdu, China. “It is just one more example of PLU’s long-term commitment to global education,” she said.
One could say similar things about Susan’s long-term commitment to PLU, even as she ends her official duties on both the Alumni Board and the Board of Regents. She still plans to remain involved, particularly when it comes to hosting and recruiting prospective students. “There is no better education than PLU,” she said.
Still, after 17 years, it begs the question: How does she plan to spend all that extra time?
“I hope my husband lets me attend his Parents Council meetings,” she chuckled.