Philip W. Eaton, Ph. D.

I grew up in a business family. My father was an entrepreneur of the old sort. Out of necessity and hard work, a bit of luck and uncanny savvy, he built a thriving business. He took raw desert land and made it into something useful for a rapidly growing city. He was one of the pioneer developers in Phoenix. My older brother, David, followed in these footsteps, successfully continuing to this day. I spent a number of years in this business.

But out of this decidedly business family, I launched my own unexpected trajectory — I ended up with a Ph.D. in literature, of all things, teaching great books and the intricacies of culture to students I loved. “What in the world are you going to do with that degree?” my father often asked. Good question, I know.

Well, eventually I moved from the classroom to become the 9th President of Seattle Pacific University, a marvelous chapter for my wife Sharon and me. My love for literature and language, my deep fascination with the intellectual life, my appreciation for learning and commitment to education, my persistent search for thoughtful faith, and my love for business—all seemed to coalesce around a full sense of calling. I will be forever grateful for all the incredible people at SPU who shared our journey through those years.

One other thing about my calling. When I became the President at Seattle Pacific in 1996, partnering with the great people of that university, we launched a mission to engage the culture and change the world. We believed that education, anchored by the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ, had the best chance of making the world a better place. We believed deeply in learning, but we believed as well there could be no separatism for Christians or for educators. We sought to be in the mix, at the table, of our dynamic, thriving, hurting city. That commitment to engagement has been the theme of my life.

Sharon and I have enjoyed a rich life together. We have three amazing sons, all married to wonderful women, and seven lively grandchildren. Life is good, absolutely never boring, always full of learning. I am the author of Engaging The Culture, Changing The World: The Christian University In A Post-Christian World, and many other publications. I am a writer, speaker, preacher, consultant—always trying hard to be a better husband, father, grandfather, loyal friend. I seem constantly to be hard at work on something.

My big hope is to bring some small measure of God’s joy and goodness and grace into the lives of others. Can I make a difference? I don’t know for sure, but that’s what gets me up every morning, ready to go to work for a new day.