President’s Winter 2018 Update

Written by Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J.
February 21, 2018

Dear Members of the Seattle University Community,

It has been quite the winter at Seattle University. The month of February has been filled with a series of exciting events and happenings and we are not done yet.

Inspiring Homecoming

We kicked off the month with Homecoming. This year’s festivities had something for everyone: students, faculty, staff and alumni showed their SU pride during the Red Umbrella Parade, sang their hearts out at Battle of the Bands, served the community during Homecoming Day of Service and turned out in large numbers to cheer on the Redhawks at the mega rally and men’s basketball game. The festivities included a record-setting SU Gives fundraising effort to support students and a thrilling victory for men’s basketball over Utah Valley with just seconds left in play.

As if that wasn’t enough, this year’s Homecoming also brought to campus the inaugural Crosscut Festival. Roughly 1,300 people came to campus for a two-day interchange of ideas featuring some of our region’s and nation’s foremost thought leaders. I was proud to see our faculty participate in the festival and many students and alumni attend. We look forward to hosting the annual festival and more excellent speakers in the coming years.

Basketball Teams Making Noise

With the "madness" of March beckoning, our men’s and women’s basketball teams are peaking at the right time. The men are one game back in second place after knocking off conference-leading New Mexico State last Saturday and the women are right in the mix in third with a 7-4 conference record. Based on how both teams have been competing these past few weeks we have every reason to believe they will be well-positioned for the WAC Tournament next month and, who knows, maybe even do some dancing, if you know what I mean.

Students Dance for Children with Cancer

Speaking of dancing, our students did quite a bit of it this weekend—18 hours straight, to be exact. The completely student-run and award-winning Seattle University Dance Marathon raised a record-breaking $160,217 in critical financial support for the Uncompensated Care Fund and children battling cancer at Seattle Children’s Hospital. I am so proud of our students for their tireless efforts and incredible commitment to this vital cause.

Supporting Students and Inclusive Excellence

Our next Catholic Heritage Lecture, which takes place tomorrow night, will be a panel discussion on “American Catholicism, Xenophobia and Immigration.” This is a topic with implications that are all too real for our students, particularly those affected by the current deliberations on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). We have been working with the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, our students and other higher education organizations in urging Congress to pass the Dream Act. As a Catholic and Jesuit institution, we must keep working on this issue.

Just as we must keep working to become an ever more inclusive university. I am grateful for the leadership of Natasha Martin, our vice president for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, for opening new lines of communication across campus and helping us identify how we can be a community in which everyone feels they belong and are valued and cared for. I am pleased to see our campus community moving forward on this important dialogue and work. A truly inclusive university translates to a richer and more excellent academic experience for all students.

“Beyond Borders,” the theme of last month’s 41st annual International Dinner, was a celebration of our common humanity and a reminder of our responsibilities to one another, as was the university’s observance of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which included a Mass at the Chapel of St. Ignatius and an event the following evening.

Search for Meaning this Weekend

Our Search for Meaning Festival this Saturday, Feb. 24, will bring more than 60 authors to campus to help us to wrestle with the most pressing questions of our day and discern how we might build a more just and humane world. It has been wonderful to host the festival since 2009 and bring so many excellent authors and thinkers to campus—not to mention the substantial crowds that turn out each year. I am most grateful for the many positive ways in which Search for Meaning continues to shape our campus and mission.

New Gateway to Campus

The winter term has also brought the opening of our relocated and expanded Campus Store at the busy intersection of 12th & Madison. An impressive new gateway on the northeast is being formed by the store and Vi Hilbert Hall, our 10-story residential and Enrollment Services building scheduled to open in fall 2018.

More Rankings and Awards

The rankings and awards keep on coming. Last fall, the Wall Street Journal annual college rankings placed SU as the top private university in the Northwest. This winter, Colleges of Distinction recognized Albers and the colleges of Education, Nursing and Science & Engineering in its 2017–18 rankings that focus on student success and excellent teaching-centered undergraduate education. We also learned in recent weeks that our theater program was ranked tops in the state and that our commitment to transfer students was again honored nationally.

So as you can see, we’re hardly hibernating and waiting out winter here at Seattle University! As we move through this season of Lent and prepare for Easter, my prayer is that all the students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends of the university participate and take pride in our shared work and Jesuit educational mission while finding great fulfillment in all that they do. Thank you for being a part of Seattle University.


Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J.