President Allan Belton talks with ASPLU President Todd Dizon in the Morken Center
President Allan Belton talks with Former ASPLU President Todd Dizon in the Morken Center, February 2020

President's Letters

Several times a year President Belton provides donors with an inside look into PLU. Read the latest letter below.

Dear Lutes,

As much as we cherish the beautiful, sunny summer months here in the Pacific Northwest, really nothing beats celebration, connection and energy of starting the school year. Community – including you – is what makes a PLU education special. Thank you for the ways you enliven this caring community. Your commitment to a better world through PLU is one reason I look forward with optimism.

Your generosity has already made a difference. You invested in possibilities when you last gave to support what you love most about PLU. Together with other Lutes, you have helped create a great collective impact to advance student access, experiences and wellbeing. The strength of community comes from individuals like you who care, nurture and invest in each other’s success. Thank you for strengthening our community.

As you know, PLU is a university that lives, learns and serves from the heart. We believe in challenging our students academically, immersing them in a culture of service and leadership, and fostering an inclusive community of care. Building on your generous support, here are some ways we’re continuing to invest in student success: 

  • New programs start this fall. Students can now pursue a major in applied mathematics, as well as minors in engineering and industry, and pre-law. PLU students and faculty choose to ask tough questions and work hard toward sustainable solutions for our communities and the earth.
  • Lute alumni and friends continue to center community. They welcome current students on job shadows, provide guidance as mentors, and connect students with vocation-shaping internships. Thank you to all the Lutes who practice service, leadership and care through making meaningful connections.
  • So far, 35 talented, curious and motivated students have enrolled this year through the automatic admission partnership. This program is designed to streamline the admission process to PLU from our local high schools. A team of Lutes is further opening doors for these students through a new donor-funded pilot program pairing them with current student peer mentors. Mentors will share their own experiences to help new students navigate the transition to college, welcome them into the community and support them in creating their own pathways for success.
  • Upcoming health sciences renovations, beginning with the Anatomy and Physiology lab in the Rieke Science Center. These renovations will provide new tools and adaptive learning spaces so students are best prepared to embrace complexity as they pursue fast-evolving careers of thoughtful care in the sciences and medical professions.
  • PLU’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program will begin this fall. As the shortage of nurses and healthcare professionals in Washington grows, exacerbated by the pandemic, PLU is committed to expanding programs and initiatives that prepare high-quality nurses who will help meet healthcare needs of communities across the Puget Sound region and beyond. We’re glad to welcome this new group of future Lute nurses who are ready to make it happen.

These updates are just a small selection of ways your investments of care, time and generosity will support the success of PLU students in the year ahead. If you’d like to be involved in supporting any of these initiatives, please send me an email at, and I will connect you with the next ways you can continue to make a difference.

Thank you again for making this community a priority through PLU. Like you, I believe in the infinite possibilities that are created through an education driven by transformative care. With students returning to campus, there will be new stories to tell, progress to report and achievements to celebrate. I look forward to continuing to share all of those things with you, along with my deep appreciation.

With gratitude,

Allan Belton

P.S. Please mark your calendar to join us for Homecoming & Family Week, Oct. 4-9, and for PLU’s Bjug Day of Giving, Oct. 18-19. Look for details at

Dear Lutes,

How did you get where you are today? Who contributed to your personal journey? 

When alumni look back at their time at PLU, we hope they will see a myriad of ways the people, places and experiences of PLU helped them get to where they are now. Caitlyn and Mycal certainly do:


“In providing me with the means to achieve my goals, you have changed so many children’s lives. Without you, I would not have the impact I can today. I promise you, I do not squander that gift & strive to make a positive impact on all of our futures each day as I serve my incredible little students.” –Caitlyn ’09, Spanish and Elementary Education

“As the first in my family to earn a college diploma, I am grateful for the scholarship as it not only alleviated the financial burden that comes with earning higher education but also empowered me to travel to the ends of the Earth and back again, to learn one of the most critical languages to U.S. national security, and ultimately build a life-altering career!” –Mycal ’12, Political Science & Chinese

Alumni and current students may not know that you specifically helped make their journeys possible, but I do. I want you to know how much your support matters.

You are part of this remarkable Lute community, and together we are embracing our collective commitment to transformative care. We nurture creativity, ask tough questions, embrace complex challenges and keep community front and center throughout. When Lutes build something new, we open the door for others to join. And when Lutes flourish, we hold the door open for those who follow. Every gift you have given made an impact on our community, whether you gave your time, financial generosity, skills and knowledge, or personal connections.

The school year finishes at the end of May, and a new class of graduates will leave PLU, taking their next steps on their journeys. While we are sad to see them go, we also can’t wait to see them flourish. We know these alumni will use the lessons they’ve learned to face new challenges and seize new opportunities. The world needs more Lutes – thoughtful, educated and compassionate community members who lead by their example. Thank you for your generous investment.

In the coming months, you will see even more examples of PLU emphasizing our long-standing commitment to transformative community care in Tacoma and the South Sound. I hope you have noticed this work in action already through initiatives like: 

  • Collaboration with MultiCare Health Systems and Pierce County Public Health to offer on-campus vaccination clinics, run by PLU nursing students, serving members of our community. 
  • Partnerships with our local school districts to streamline the admission pathway to PLU for even more qualified students and creation of a Fixed Tuition Guarantee to make a PLU education affordable for a greater number of students and to remove barriers that hinder their success.
  • Ongoing expansion of internship and mentoring programs, such as alumni offering job shadowing opportunities to provide current students with hands-on learning experiences and open pathways for access

This commitment to community flourishing is possible because of the collective care from Lutes, including you, and willing partners who are eager to make meaningful change together. And as Lutes, we are uniquely prepared for this commitment because it stems from our Lutheran identity, in which education is inextricably linked to promoting life, health, and wholeness for others, our communities and the Earth. 

On May 19, Provost Joanna Gregson and I will be hosting a virtual town hall to provide updates, answer your questions and share our excitement about what’s next in PLU’s journey. We have enjoyed the opportunity to hear from donors, alumni, parents and friends in these virtual events and would love for you to join us. 

You are invited:
PLU Virtual Town Hall
Thursday, May 19 at 11 a.m. PDT
Online via Zoom
Register any time prior to the event at 

A community is a collection of individuals, but a community does not flourish without those individuals caring for each other. You are vital to the flourishing of this community, and I am incredibly grateful to you for your contributions. Thank you for believing in the difference Lutes can make in the world and for the doors you hold open to each student who makes PLU part of their journey. Your gifts are an investment in the future of PLU students and in a collective effort to better care for each other and the Earth.


Allan Belton


P.S. Are you getting our donor update emails? Each month we highlight the ways in which your support is fueling the positive impact Lutes have on our world. These emails also include timely opportunities for you to connect with other Lutes and continue your own lifelong learning. If you’re not receiving these emails, you can sign up at or return the enclosed form.

Dear Lutes,

I hope that you and your loved ones found warmth, rest and joy leading into this New Year. My family and I are planners, so reflecting on the year past and imagining the year to come is one of our favorite traditions during the days following Christmas. I invite you into that same spirit of remembrance and imagining, and give my deepest gratitude to you for sharing a commitment to care for our students, our communities and the Earth. Your support, together with fellow Lutes, makes possible so many of the updates I am pleased to share with you.

This month and through spring semester, more than 200 students will participate in study away programs. Whether local, national or global, these off-campus experiences provide opportunities for students to enhance their capacity for critical thought, intercultural communication and knowledge about the interconnectedness of the world. Study away has long been a cornerstone of a transformative PLU education, and we are so glad that students are again able to explore these opportunities.

Our students, and their families, have expressed gratitude for the faculty, staff and donors who make it possible for PLU to provide students with critical mental health care. In 2020, Lutes gave to help ensure the most essential mental health resources were in place to serve students. And on GivingTuesday 2021, Lutes came together again to help deepen and expand the mental health resources available to students. As a result, starting this year, a social work clinical care manager will join the Counseling Center to provide additional support addressing increased demand and more complex mental health needs. Students will be connected not only with PLU resources, but also those offered as members of our broader community.

Just as the pandemic has called us to adopt new ways of living and working, we know with certainty that the days of universities “going it alone” have passed. As an anchor institution in our region, we have an opportunity to support our students, families and neighbors through a community-centered, partnership-centered approach. 

Here are a few new ways that PLU is enhancing the student experience together with community partners and your support:

  • A Fixed Tuition Guarantee will start with the incoming undergraduate class in the fall of 2022. This is part of an ongoing effort to make a PLU education affordable for a greater number of students and to remove barriers that hinder their success.
  • The Automatic Admission Partnership, piloted with the local Bethel School District, has generated positive results. We are expanding this program to additional school districts to streamline the admission pathway to PLU for even more qualified students.
  • An Emergency Nurse Practitioner Certificate program begins this summer. Lute nurses have a reputation of excellence, and as our state and others continue to face shortages of nurses and other healthcare professionals, we have an opportunity to expand our offerings to be part of the solution.
  • Two new undergraduate minors are moving forward: STEM Education and Engineering & Industry. STEM education, across all levels, provides an important understanding of our world and nurtures many skills necessary to ensure the wellbeing of people, communities and the Earth.
  • Many local employers are providing internships and experiential opportunities for students, giving them important avenues to practice and augment skills gained in the classroom. We are grateful to see these important programs continue to grow.

Partnerships like these enhance the student experience and actively contribute to the thriving of our communities. Lutheran education has always been a community endeavor, and I’m eager to see what we will continue to accomplish in partnership together. The impact of your gifts, time and care extends beyond our campus and into all the places where Lutes live, work and serve. 

Thank you for helping open doors for PLU students and encouraging them on their journeys of thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership and care. Because the world needs more Lutes.


Allan Belton


P.S. During our annual Bjug Day of Giving in October, an incredible 2,046 donors gave $1,120,018 to make this the biggest-hearted Bjug Day to date. If you haven’t seen the final updates, I encourage you to go to for messages of gratitude, fun photos and stories highlighting how your support uplifts and enriches the student experience.

Donor Updates

February 2023: Your impact on campus space

New Anatomy & Physiology Lab, Together for Well-Being, Upcoming Events

January 2023: Your impact through...

Academics, Athletics, Scholarships, Student Experience

November 2022: Thankful for you!

Presidential Town Hall, Resolute, Bjug Day Recap

September 2022: You're invited! Homecoming, town hall and more

Move-In Day, Convocation, Stay Connected

August 2022: Bringing in a new academic year

President Belton’s Donor Letter, Words of Encouragement, and Save the Dates

July 2022: The reach of your support

President Belton’s April 2022 Donor Letter, Class of ’22 Student Highlights, Save the Dates

Previous Updates

Class of 2022 Commencement, Spring 2022 Resolute, and Summer Events

Read Here

Presidential Town Hall Invitation, Alumni Gratitude, and Upcoming Events

Read Here

Confronting Mental Health, Student Leaders, and Zach Willis ’19

Read Here

Letter from President Belton, J-Term Study Away, and Upcoming Events

Read Here

Presidential Town Hall Recording, Yesenia Arellano ’13 Story, and Bjug Day Recap

Read Here

Alumni-Student Mentorship, PLU Internship Fund, and Upcoming Fall Events

Read Here

Dear Lutes,

Right now, more than 750 new PLU graduates are starting their next big journey. You helped them get here. The unprecedented nature of this last year was met by unprecedented generosity from you and Lutes all over the world. Thank you.

It is difficult to express how filled with gratitude my heart is — and the hearts of our staff, faculty and especially students — because of your support. The Lute community came together this year in amazing ways: over $16 million was committed in financial support, hundreds of Lutes donated their talent as mentors and volunteers, and thousands joined virtually to learn, provide encouragement and stay connected. In every challenging moment, and every celebration, Lutes cared for each other.

You showed up for PLU students, faculty and staff in really impactful ways last year, and I want to celebrate with you the accomplishments of your support:

  • 1,807 Lutes created the biggest Bjug Day of Giving yet, raising more than $1 million in support of scholarships, programs, and additional student needs. 
  • Gifts to the PLU Fund provided scholarships for more than 700 students and helped cover emergency needs for nearly 200 students.
  • Lutes established the new Good Trouble Fund to help more than 40 Black students cover the unexpected costs of college so they may truly thrive at PLU.
  • 129 Lutes showed great care for student mental health and wellness on GivingTuesday. Gifts supported additional psychiatry hours, equity training, and improved technology and systems to deliver better care.
  • More than 200 Lutes surpassed the goal of raising $110,000 to help at least 10 new standout student leaders attend PLU through the expansion of the Act Six scholarship program to Yakima and a formalization of the Palmer Scholars partnership.
  • PLU Athletics faced a season like no other. More than 240 Lutes stepped up to help tackle additional costs so student-athletes could safely return to competition in the spring.
  • More than 70 alumni mentors provided outstanding guidance to help students and student-athletes tackle the transition to college, connect to internship and employment opportunities, and ask big questions about vocation.  

Our community took on really important work last year, both in response to the evolving challenges posed by the pandemic and forging ahead with our five-year strategic plan. Higher education is in the midst of significant change and challenge. One element of PLU’s strategic plan calls for the university to review, reimagine, and in some cases discontinue academic program offerings so that a PLU education remains relevant, accessible, and transformative. 

As a key step in moving the strategic plan forward, a committee of 20 elected faculty members completed a review of academic programs this spring. The faculty evaluated each academic program to ensure PLU’s offerings respond to student interests in a way that efficiently stewards resources and aligns with our commitment to provide a quality liberal arts and professional education, infused with the core elements of Lutheran higher education. The faculty explored the demand for existing and new majors and minors, as well as graduate programs, and evaluated support needs. Through this collaborative and difficult process, and in coordination with other excellent work across the academic division,  some programs will be reduced in size or eliminated, while others will be added or expanded. I invite you to learn more about the strategic plan and vision at

The work of this last year has paved the way for faculty to ideate, innovate and reimagine our curriculum and how it is delivered. One way faculty are creating stronger programs is by bringing key insights and perspectives from multiple disciplines together in ways that will both attract and benefit students. To highlight one example, faculty with expertise in Nordic studies will move from a small, standalone department to join the vibrant and growing Global and Area Studies program. This will engage a greater number of students by providing new access to their courses. Aligning Scandinavian Cultural Center programming will strengthen the connection between academic study and PLU’s heritage, for the benefit of students and the community. Additional new programs and initiatives are being explored, and I look forward to sharing news as plans coalesce.

I continue to be grateful that so many members of this community take time to share your thoughts and engage in conversation about what you find distinctly meaningful about PLU. The sharing of your ideas and feelings is a huge testament to PLU’s history of creating transformative experiences and to the caring nature of Lutes. Together we have a proactive commitment to living and uplifting our PLU values.

Many donors have asked about plans for the fall. I’m excited to say we intend a full return to in-person experiences — classrooms, athletic competitions, performing arts (including Christmas concerts), full residence halls, and more — all with appropriate safety measures and a spirit of renewed community, fun and care. I’m especially proud of how our students have supported each other, like the seniors in the School of Business who reached out to rising sophomores and juniors who hadn’t yet registered for fall classes to check-in and encouraged them to continue. 

Taking time to thank you and provide an inside look into PLU is always a highlight for me. I hope I have conveyed how Lutes are caring for each other and our community in a truly PLU way, and how you are an important part of this work. Thank you for your ongoing commitment to supporting PLU students and the leaders, creators, change-makers and caring global citizens they will become. Because the world needs more Lutes.


Allan Belton

P.S. I hope you will watch for opportunities to join us both in-person and virtually in the fall. Mark your calendars now for Homecoming & Family Week, Sept. 28 – Oct. 3, and for the Bjug Day of Giving, Oct. 19 – 20. More to come!

Your Impact, Family Spotlight, and Homecoming & Family Week Save the Date

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PLU Graduates, Virtual Ceremonies, and Teaching in the Pandemic

Read Here