October 5, 2019

President’s Remarks: Allan Belton
Student Spotlight: Kyle Siemers

Allan Belton, President

Allan Belton is the 14th President at Pacific Lutheran University. Before he became President, he served as Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, responsible for the University’s administrative functions including Business Operations & Finance, Human Resources, Facilities & Construction Management, Information Technology, and Risk Management.

Prior to joining PLU in 2015, Allan enjoyed a 25-year career with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where he served most recently as Managing Director and Chief Operations Officer for global treasury management. Allan is married to Melinda (Krotz) Belton, PLU Class of 1991, and lives in Gig Harbor where they raised their three children.

President's Remarks

Good evening Lutes – thank you all for being here. 

I would like to offer a particularly heartfelt welcome to former PLU president and first-lady, Loren and MaryAnn Anderson. Melinda and I are thankful for your leadership, your friendship and your generous wisdom. We’re honored to have you join us tonight – welcome home.

I’m delighted to celebrate the incredible students and inspiring alumni stories made possible through your generosity and the impact of a PLU education.

Yesterday, during my inauguration address, I spoke about seeing the possibilities. I reflected upon the visionary founders of PLU, who saw the possibilities of creating one of the world’s finest institutions of higher-learning, on the very spot where we gather tonight.

I spoke about the 13 previous presidents of PLU, each of whom saw the possibilities of this great institution in their own way, and each of whom endeavored to steward the mission entrusted to them.  

I shared stories of alumni who saw the possibilities of their unique vocations in the world, and the ways in which a PLU education equipped them to live lives of thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership and care.

Across the generations, PLU graduates have been difference-makers who engage the world, in all its complexity, with open minds and caring hearts. Citizens who strive to serve the common good. In my brief time at PLU, I have been blessed to intersect with so many of these amazing Lutes. 

Tonight, four more alumni will add their stories to our collective memory. We will celebrate those who have accomplished much, and who exemplify the mission of PLU in the world. 

Lutes stand out in their differences and their similarities. They share both diversity of background and experience, as well as the deep bonds of common purpose. They lead through service in the world, and their eyes are firmly fixed on the larger world around them, our global community. Congratulations to each of our honorees tonight. I look forward to hearing your PLU stories.

Following the Lute Family Brunch today, we had the pleasure of meeting Dave Johnson, a member of the class of 1969 who is on campus to celebrate his 50th Reunion, and who is with us tonight. As Dave told me, as alumni and students, “this is our university, and as president, you are our trustee.” I couldn’t agree more.

One of the chief roles of the president is to steward the mission of the university. The donors, alumni and friends with us this evening continue to see the possibilities for PLU, investing in a strong today and bright tomorrow for this great institution.

This past year, we graduated 548 new Lutes out into the world to advance their unique vocational journeys. We’ve also made good progress continuing to update the school house, strengthen existing programs and invest in new program innovation. These include:

  • PLU’s Nursing program: Last fall, I announced our plans to imagine a renovation of the former Garfield Book Company, to become a state-of-the-art clinical learning and simulation center for the School of Nursing. I’m proud to say that together we have made good progress on the design and fundraising work for this project. The new center will double the square footage dedicated to our outstanding nursing students, and will include high-tech simulation labs, classrooms, faculty offices and student gathering spaces. As of this week, we have secured over $4.2 million for the $6 ½ million estimated cost, and this project will remain our highest capital priority in the year ahead, creating premier learning spaces for a premier program. 
  • Locker Room: Over the past year we have also invested in athletic and wellness spaces for our students – chief among them being a completely renovated locker room for men’s football, cross country and track & field programs. Less than a week ago we dedicated this space, which was made possible through an investment of university funds and the generosity of over 200 donors to date. This project was a true grassroots effort, with gifts ranging from $25 to $50,000. Thank you to all who helped make this space a reality.
  • Nesvig Center / New home for Alumni and Student Connections: As Lutes, we all know that a PLU degree is about more than a job – we educate citizens for thoughtful service in a complex world. We also know that parents and students are increasingly concerned about the cost of education and the outcomes they might expect for their students or themselves after graduation.  

I’m proud that PLU students have the lowest four-year student debt of any private school in Washington, and equally proud that PLU was ranked number one for job placement among all Washington schools this past year. We have accomplished these terrific outcomes in part due to a combination of merit and financial need scholarships, supported by generous donors – and by connecting our students to mentorship and internships through the 40,000 strong network of Lutes locally and globally.  

While you’re on campus for Homecoming and Family Weekend, I hope you had a chance to visit the newly renovated Nesvig Center. This space is the new home to our Alumni and Student Connections team – a place for alumni, employers, parents and others to meet and engage with PLU’s students on a formal and informal basis, in person and through the use of technology. 

We are all so very grateful for the generosity you and others have shown to PLU – and as I said last night, grateful that Lutes everywhere continue to see the possibilities of this place.  Melinda and I are also personally grateful for your continued care and support and we are committed to acting as effective stewards of all of those possibilities.


Kyle Siemers, Class of 2020

Kyle Siemers is a senior studying chemistry and biochemistry with the intent to pursue a medical degree focused on women’s health. Kyle is involved in the PLU Orchestra, Residence Hall Council, the International Honors program, and serves as student coordinator for the Admission Ambassador program, helping current students show prospective students the benefits of a PLU education.

Student Spotlight

“Good evening, everyone. It’s a privilege to join you all for this special evening and share with you a bit of my experience at PLU.

PLU was never on my radar when I started thinking about college. I didn’t even know about PLU until fall of my senior year of high school… until someone told me I’d be a good Lute… whatever that means, I thought. Nevertheless I found myself applying, visiting, interviewing for a President’s Scholarship, and ultimately jumping for joy telling my friends and family that I was going to be a Lute!  One thing that stood out to me the most while I was contemplating my college decision was how at some other schools when I mentioned I wanted to pursue studying medicine and science and still be involved in music, I was met with some averted glances or some passive “that’s great, good luck!” But at PLU, people who heard this were enthusiastic and shared contacts of students following similar paths. I felt supported in my passions and saw hope in the opportunity to tie them together in my time at PLU. 

When I got to PLU, being involved in the International Honors program, I knew I wanted to study away at the University of Oxford in the UK. Setting up a schedule for pre-med, my chem major, involvement in IHON and music made that seem impossible, but we found a way. This spring, I studied rationalism and faith in Victorian literature and metabolism and surgical ethics in Oxford, as well as witnessed once in a lifetime experiences… like going to see the USA Women’s National Team advance to win the World Cup in France and not one, but two, Brexit scares. 

The pillars of Lutheran Higher Education support a broad and deep experience of learning at PLU. It has allowed me to follow my academic passions across the globe without giving up the extracurricular experiences I love.

Undergraduate research is something I’ve been able to experience at PLU that really has shown me the breadth of support that makes these opportunities possible. Last summer I was part of the Natural Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research Program where I got to develop solid polymer electrolytes with chemistry professor Dr. Waldow. I was able to foster this connection with a faculty member and other student researchers as well as travel to present my research at a conference thanks to generous donor support of our Natural Sciences Department at PLU. This summer I was so lucky to participate in an internship at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine where I got to do research in downtown Chicago. I say I’m so lucky primarily because the professor who lead this project, out of all the students in the world to invite in her lab, chose to select three Lutes from her alma mater. This opportunity provided to us by a PLU alumna was further supported as we participated in a fundraiser to help offset the costs of living in Chicago for the summer. We were blown away by the PLU community, family, friends, faculty, and even some of our peers who donated to help us reach our goal.  

This is just one example of how the entire community of Lutes helps to make incredible opportunities possible for our students–from professors, like Dr. Waldow, alumni, like Dr. Karla Satchell my mentor at Northwestern, to long-standing donors to programs funding study away, academic and fine arts scholarships, and our summer undergrad research programs, and those who can give a few bucks to campaigns like the one that helped Megan, Carson, and me get to Chicago. I’m thankful for the contributions of all the people who made opportunities possible at PLU despite not knowing who I am, but instead trusted in the community we build to uplift our current and future students. 

A couple minutes ago, I opened by talking about how PLU was never on my radar when I started thinking about college. Now, not only have I had such a wonderful experience at PLU, but I also get to be part of the team that helps future students see the possibilities in a PLU education. I’ve been with the Office of Admission since my first year at PLU, stomping through puddles in yellow rain boots on tours, and now I work more behind the scenes as the Admission Ambassador Student Coordinator. This role has given me a new perspective not only on how PLU provides opportunities to future students, but also how those students create possibilities for the future of PLU.  Since I’ve been here, each of our incoming classes have had more First in the Family students, more international students, and more students of color… all supported by more equitable and accessible scholarships like Act Six and the 253 Scholarship. PLU is 5th in the nation of small schools to produce Peace Corps Volunteers thanks a lot to our Peace Corps Prep program. PLU is preparing its students for lives of multidisciplinary innovation with programs like Data Science and all of our interdisciplinary majors and minors. Lutes are active in this community, organizing events to Get Out the Vote, engage in Interfaith ministry and vocation, direct Musical Revues… and that’s just this weekend! I love my job because I get to see students who visit PLU, sometimes just as dazed and confused as I was, ultimately join our community and get involved…

This family of Lutes is growing bigger, smarter, more resilient, with big dreams that will change the world. Thank you for being here, being part of this family and seeing the possibilities PLU will bring to all of us Lutes and to all the Lutes who might not know it yet. Because, now I know what it means to say to someone, I think you’d make good Lute. Thank you”