Reflecting with Gratitude, Looking Ahead with Hope

November 23, 2020

Dear Alumni, Friends and Parents,

As we approach the close of a fall academic term at Seattle U unlike any other, I want to share my perspective on the past few months and what’s ahead for us as a university, while expressing profound appreciation for what you mean to SU and to me, personally. 

An Extraordinary Fall Term

The fall academic term at SU has not been easy. In their own rights, a global pandemic, economic downturn, struggle for racial justice and contentious national election would each be enough to significantly alter our life as a university; combined, they have presented a nearly unthinkable array of challenges. 

And yet the effort to which our Seattle U family has gone to work through our present reality—with flexibility, creativity and kindness—has been remarkable and uplifting. In all my 24 years as president, I have never been more proud of this university and the people who make it so special—from our students, faculty and staff, to all of you, our alumni, friends and parents. Thank you.

Moving Forward Together Toward Better Days

While our present focus may seem to be singularly dominated by the uncertain and fragile condition of our world and society, the past few months have shown that our university has the wherewithal to not only weather these trying times, but to emerge prepared to make a greater impact.

Here at Seattle U, we are moving forward to realize our vision of being one of the most innovative and progressive Jesuit and Catholic universities in the world. We are turning our Strategic Directions for 2020-2025 into tangible actions by enhancing our rigorous Jesuit education, enriching the SU student experience and advancing the critical work of acting against racism and fostering a more inclusive campus community. The recently named Jim and Janet Sinegal Center for Science and Innovation, one of the most important developments for our future, is on track to be completed in May 2021. We are cementing our place in building a more just and humane world and sustainable planet as we prepare to welcome Eduardo Peñalver, our outstanding president-elect, as Seattle University’s first lay leader. 

This is not to say it is all smooth sailing. We continue to face significant challenges and difficult decisions, but I strongly believe better days are ahead—and that we, as a Jesuit university, are made for this moment and called to play a vital role in the healing and renewal that is so very much needed in our world.

You, our alumni, friends and parents, are essential to all that we have accomplished as a university and hope to become in the future, and in the coming years we look forward to strengthening our connectedness with you.

Take Care of Yourself and Others

With COVID-19 cases rising exponentially, the next several weeks and months will test us, perhaps even more so than what we’ve faced thus far. As we continue to remind our students at every turn, it is imperative for us all to be vigilant in protecting ourselves and others by wearing facial coverings, social distancing and washing hands frequently and thoroughly. “COVID fatigue” is setting in just as the weather turns colder and increasingly confines us indoors, and while the approaching holidays bring an even greater yearning to be with those we love and care about, we know that many of our gatherings and human interactions will need to take place virtually. 

We also know that, for many, the holidays bring heightened stress, and life as we currently know it only exacerbates these anxieties. Please reach out to others if you are struggling and avail yourselves of the resources out there. If you find yourself in a position to do so, please look out for those among us who are most vulnerable and in need of our presence and compassion. In these times it is more important than usual to connect with, and care for, one another, and this is what our Seattle University family is all about. 

While this holiday season will undoubtedly be different, I pray that you find rest and rejuvenation and experience peace and joy. Thank you for your support of our university, our mission and most especially our students. May you and yours be blessed with happiness and health in the coming days and always.


Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J.