Posts Tagged ‘Alumni Director’

CEO of Saddleback Leather Co. Dave Munson chosen for 2015 Alumnus of the Year Award

PORTLAND, Ore. – Multnomah University is proud to announce the recipient of the 2015 Alumnus of the Year Award: Dave Munson, CEO of Saddleback Leather Company.


Munson began attending MU in 1992 after a mission trip inspired him to study the Bible like never before. “I wanted to do ministry the rest of my life, so I knew I needed more education,” he says. “I came to Multnomah because I was trying to be obedient.”

After graduating with a degree in Bible and Theology, Munson moved to Mexico and began teaching English. He looked everywhere for the perfect carry-on to hold his school books, but nothing fit his criteria. That’s when he collaborated with a local craftsman to design his first leather bag.

When the bag started receiving multiple compliments a day, a lightbulb turned on in Munson’s head. He scrimped and saved for more bags and then sold them — first out of his Land Cruiser, then via eBay, and now through Saddleback Leather Company, his thriving business that crafts high-quality luggage, wallets, backpacks and more.

“Even if I knew the path of my life back then…even if I knew that one day I’d own Saddleback, I would go to Multnomah again,” says Munson. “It was instilled in all of us there to be honest. There was a constant pounding on the drum for integrity.”

Munson hasn’t only applied those principles to his personal life — he’s built his entire business around them. Saddleback is committed to investing in its employees and cultivating a sustainable work environment for them. This fall, the company’s factory in Mexico will start providing free day care and school for employees’ children. Factory workers can also enroll in complimentary parenting classes, marriage seminars, counseling sessions and English courses.

Saddleback also shows its English teachers how they can respectfully share the gospel with employees. So far this year, 104 people have accepted Jesus in Munson’s factory. “This is not a business created for just financial motives,” he says. “If God had a factory, we think this is how he would run it.”

Michelle Underwood, Multnomah’s director of alumni relations, says Munson’s heart for serving his employees is one of the reasons he was selected as this year’s award recipient. “Dave is a graduate who has not only distinguished himself as a business owner, but has also demonstrated that his business is a ministry to his employees and customers,” she says. “His passion, drive, humility and generosity make him a wonderful selection for the 2015 Alumnus of the Year.”

Munson will be honored with the Alumnus of the Year award at 10 a.m. on September 7, 2015. All staff, faculty and students are welcome to attend the celebration. During the event, Munson will share more about his personal journey and business model.

Looking Back and Looking Forward

Of the many activities held during commencement, our 50-year alumni society event has traditionally been one of my favorites. This year was no different. We inducted 24 members from the class of 1964 into Multnomah’s 50-year alumni society, and I was, once again, struck by the significance of this half-century mark that underscores the legacy of a Multnomah education. I believe it is a tangible expression of our rich heritage that demonstrates God’s faithfulness throughout the generations and the importance of a vital daily relationship with Him.

"Our years of training at Multnomah have resulted in much fruit, both here and abroad," said 50-year society member Dr. Tim Aldrich. The former faculty member was encouraged by the reunion with his former classmates — and by meeting MU's new president, Dr. Craig Williford, at the event.

"During the last 50 years, Multnomah has changed in response to the needs of a changing world by adding facilities, new majors and faculty members," Aldrich said. "And yet, at its core is a solid commitment to the transforming power of the Word. Having met Dr. Williford, I am confident that he will continue the Multnomah tradition and its commitment to the Word of God."

Anticipating What is Ahead

It is an honor and a great joy to be a part of the ongoing legacy of Multnomah. As I reflect back on our history, in anticipation of what is ahead, I am excited for the future. While admittedly it has been a challenging season, I have never been more encouraged to see God at work in such amazing ways.

It has been a season of prayer, as we’ve collectively sought the Lord for the man or woman who would lead the ministry of Multnomah in this next chapter. Thank you for the part you’ve played in partnering with us here. God has far exceeded our expectations and we are humbled by His graciousness in His selection of Multnomah’s new president.

I’m excited for you to meet Dr. Craig and his wife Carolyn. I think you’ll find that beyond the wealth of experience in higher education, leadership and pastoral ministry that Craig brings, he and Carolyn both have a heart for the Savior and a recognition of  their deep dependence upon Him.

A Man of Humility and Prayer

“We humbly take our place within the distinguished line of former and current trustees, faculty, staff, administration and presidents who served so sacrificially,” Craig said in response to the board of trustee’s invitation to serve as Multnomah’s fifth president. In reading his latest book, "How to Treat a Staff Infection — Resolving Problems in Your Church or Ministry Team", I’ve been encouraged to see his heart for people and ministry, as well as his incredible insight and vision for leadership. His obvious dependence on the Lord, his humility and his heart for prayer is most inspiring.

In closing, I want to leave you with the charge Craig gave to his readers: “May you always lead with godliness, humility, wisdom, courage, grace, mercy, respect, and love. As under-shepherds who report to the Head Shepherd — Christ himself — how else will we mobilize others to serve in God’s kingdom with distinction? What an awesome responsibility!”

What an awesome responsibility indeed, and what a privilege it is to serve and be a part of what God is doing this side of heaven.

In awe of God’s grace,

Michelle M. Peel-Underwood,  B.A. '00, M.A. '10

Director of Alumni Relations

Multnomah University


Love Story – A Homecoming Reflection

Love Story – A Homecoming Reflection

Message from the Alumni Director

“I in them and You in Me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.” John 17:23

This past month, we commemorated Multnomah’s 75th anniversary with a special Homecoming Week celebration. Traveling from California, Colorado, Canada, and even some as far away as Uganda, hundreds of alumni returned home in celebration of this significant milestone in Multnomah’s history. Read the rest of this entry »

When We Face Loss

When We Face Loss

Message from the Alumni Director

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” Genesis 50:20

Have you ever experienced a time of loss? The loss of a job, your health, a committed relationship, a marriage, a dream, a child, or a loved one? Throughout life’s journey the road is often met with hardship — difficult seasons that seem unjust and unfair.  Read the rest of this entry »

Cultivating a Heart After His Own

Cultivating a Heart After His Own

Message from the Alumni Director

“Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.” Psalm 119

I love the eager anticipation a New Year can bring. For me, it is often the feeling of a fresh start, along with the expectation of the unknown that makes this opportunity for reflection and the consideration of new goals so exciting. Read the rest of this entry »

75th Anniversary Convocation Chapel

75th Anniversary Convocation Chapel


Message from the Alumni Director

“In the same way, let your light shine before others so they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 Read the rest of this entry »