Bastyr University Celebrates Its Past, Present & Future

On Friday November 6, 2015, members of the Bastyr Community filled the chapel to formally welcome new University president Charles “Mac” Powell, PhD and honor the original founders of the school. The theme of the celebration was about the University’s past, present and future. Pioneering founders Les Griffith, ND, Joseph E. Pizzorno, Jr., ND and Sheila Quinn took part in a panel discussion, moderated by Dean of the School of Naturopathic Medicine, Jane Guiltinan, ND.

From there, Bastyr President Powell took the stage and advanced the conversation, talking about both the present and the future of the University. Here are his remarks in full:

First, I want to say thank you to the Board, the faculty and staff, the alumni, and all of our students who have welcomed Tuan and I warmly to Bastyr. The University is a shining example of an institution driven by a sense of purpose, and as I have the opportunity to reflect upon what I've learned -- both in this discussion, and in the hundreds of meetings, emails, surveys, and town halls -- I feel that the institution is moving toward that greater fulfillment of the mission, vision, and purpose that our founders held in mind almost forty years ago. I also think that it is important to acknowledge the shared collective decision-making and achievements of all of the people who have touched the institution since its founding and to everyone who will carry our vision forward in the years to come.  

As I reflect upon the feedback I have received, I believe that central to our work must be five priorities:

  1. Continuing to Attract, Support, and Retain World-Class Students
  2. Attracting, Supporting, and Retaining World-Class Faculty
  3. Increasing Development Activities, Focusing on Expanding Grants, Major Gifts, and Planned Giving
  4. Minimizing Our Student’s Debt Burden Through Revenue Expansion, Stewardship of Existing Resources, and Fundraising
  5. Collaborating Across Disciplines and Expanding Partnerships with Complementary Organizations

Therefore some of the important steps that we will be undertaking in the short term include:

  • Funding Salary Increases for Faculty and Staff and Maintaining High Quality Benefits for Full-Time Employees
  • Increasing Communication and Visibility Through Social Media, Continuing Education, and Accessible Video Content
  • Expanding Residency and Post-Graduation Learning Opportunities Through Partnerships and Collaborations with Alumni and Health Care Agencies
  • Working to Expand Career Opportunities for our Graduates
  • Expanding Research Opportunities Through Grant Funding, Internal Sponsorship, and Philanthropy
  • Supporting Undergraduate Enrollment Growth
  • Exploring Differential Tuition and Block Tuition Pricing for Acupuncture and Undergraduate Programs
  • Recognizing the Research Accomplishments of University Faculty
  • Advancing the General Public’s Understanding of Natural Health, and the Role of Complementary and Integrative Health Providers

We know that major campaigns lie ahead to establish a permanent San Diego Campus, to develop additional student housing in Kenmore in order to continue to attract students from around the world, and to build additional infrastructure to realize our research objectives.

However, while all of these strategies and tactics are important, what I can say about the future is that it must be guided by a firm grasp of our past, yet also a conscientious and disciplined belief in choice.


....that the brightest students from around the world have the choice to attend Bastyr.


.... that our student clinicians are given access to the widest and most comprehensive toolbox of skills so that they can make informed choices for themselves about the future of their practices and be inspired life-long learners.


....that our graduates have the ability to choose where they will practice, and will be well-compensated for the healing they provide.


....that our patients are able to choose the modality of care and the type of caregivers that best leads them to ultimate health.


....that the faculty and leadership within the institution have the freedom and resources to make the many critical decisions that will lead us to a more prosperous future.

Let me share that underlying all of these choices, all of these opportunities we have and will have together, is the choice of how we interact with one another, with our students, and with the world.

Are we a culture that can work collaboratively, across disciplines, that can partner with those outside of our walls....and even with those with whom we might not agree? 

Do we seek first to understand, or do we seek first to command, to control, to manipulate, to teach or lecture in a way that does not invite the other into our worldview?

Can we be in relationship with one another? Can we ask difficult questions? Can we be critical, but at the same time supportive?  

I believe that we can, if we make the choice of intention. Is it our intention to be in fellowship, or to be righteous? Is our intention to be right and to defend, or to collaborate and to seek in the other what they find most moves their heart, and then grant them the space and freedom to find their own path?  

Finally, beyond choice we must have passion.

We must be just as passionate about institutional and individual performance as we are about our mission.

We must be as passionate about the experiences of our students as we are passionate for our own needs as employees.

We must be as passionate about the pursuit of new knowledge as we are passionate for the need to validate our own beliefs.

We must be as passionate about the financial, physical, and cultural health of this institution as we are passionate about the physical and spiritual health of the world.

As we express our passion and give choice to our students and colleagues, we must be mindful of the cancer of cynicism and ego.  Cynicism and criticism without achievable solutions are tools of an extraordinarily unproductive and most assuredly destructive mind. It is not impressive to be cynical. Anyone can be cynical. It takes no special skill, no creative energy, and certainly no intelligence worthy of an academic institution. Our institution was built by these founders on hope, on idealism, and on what could be built. While they may have had criticisms about other forms of medicine, or the educational system, those were but a flicker of where they spent their energy. Look around you... our University was not built on their complaints against the aggrieved. It was built on looking forward into what might be. That is where we must invest our energy, and each of us must guide our words, our actions, and what we convey to the world carefully and positively.  

Are we creative....are we passionate.....are we optimistic.....are each of you founders of a legacy that years from now another president, another dean, and another room of thousands of alumni will look back upon and say, “They gave us the freedom, the resources, the history to give us the choices to practice differently, to be the light in the healing of the human community."

Thank you for your support. Thank you for all that you have given and done, and for all that is yet ahead.  



Dr. Mac Powell
Bastyr University



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