At Pacific Lutheran University, there is music in the air, the sun is shining brightly and several professors have taken their classrooms outside. Life is good, but life is also about to change.
President Loren Anderson, now in his 20th year, has decided to retire.
“Nothing lasts forever, even when it's really, really, really good,” he said.
He and his wife Mary Ann feel the time is right. And with his last day approaching, there is sadness across campus.
“I think it's bittersweet because they've been here for 20 years they’ve done a lot and served this community , it will be tough to see them leave but for them I understand it's a good time and the university is in a good place,” said student Anna McCracken.
“To walk out onto the campus and see the students learning and growing and preparing for the future, that’s good stuff,” said Anderson.
“He's all about leadership, hospitality and simplicity,” said Dr. Sheri Tonn, PLU Vice President
Legendary Lutes football coach Frosty Westering is in the Hall of Fame for 305 wins in 32 seasons. Anderson's numbers are just as impressive. He's spearheaded three major fundraising campaigns which brought in more than $300 million.
“When he came to PLU we were really in need of some long range planning and he's done that,” said Tonn.
Anderson also focused efforts on bringing an international influence to the campus. In 2006, PLU became the first university to have students and faculty studying simultaneously on all seven continents.
“I think it’s so important that we train a new generation of leaders to who have been in the process of stepping across cultural boundaries and borders and learn what it is to walk in the shoes of another,” said Anderson.
Dr. Anderson has seen his share of great moments, but in 2001, it wasn’t about fundraising, academics or victories. He had to deal with something much more serious. Music professor Jim Holloway was shot to death on campus.
Anderson calls it one of darkest times of his tenure, but a time where he's never felt the school come so close together.
“I think if there’s one thing we learned in those moments of tragedy is that it's community and it's faith,” he said.
It's been his life, his passion, and while he's eager to now spend time at his wife at their Minnesota lake house, he says saying goodbye, won’t be easy.
“It’s a bittersweet time, there’s no question about it,” he said.
Dr. Anderson will give the commencement speech at this year’s graduation. It will be his first. The new president, Tom Krise will take over on June 1.