University Updates

President Sundborg brings campus community up to speed on SU developments at latest forum

Story by: Mike Thee
Published: 2013-01-28

SU President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., provided an update on all manner of campus news, developments and happenings at his Jan. 17 President's Forum for faculty and staff. Here are some of the highlights from the forum.

  • Jeannette Rodriguez, professor of theology and religious studies is the 2013 McGoldrick Fellow.
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  • The Seattle University Youth Initiative has received $1.5 million as the lead education partner on a "Choice Neighborhoods" grant to Seattle Housing Authority supporting Yesler Terrace from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Jim Sinegal, founder and former CEO of Costco and longtime friend of the university, also has contributed $500,000 to the Youth Initiative, the president announced.
  • Enrollment for winter quarter "is better than we anticipated," particularly at the graduate level, he said.
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  • The Strategic Planning Council--led by Bob Dullea, vice president for university and vice provost, and Jackie Helfgott, chair of the Criminal Justice Department--will be bringing forward by the end of February a plan that includes overall goals for the university and specific initiatives. The plan will then be integrated with a business plan for the university. The council is paying particular attention to the current economic climate, emerging importance of technology in higher education, changing demographic of prospective college students and shifts in the labor market and the skills being demanded of college graduates.
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  • The search for the next dean of the College of Education is underway and candidates will be brought forward in the spring. The president also congratulated Azita Emami, dean of the College of Nursing, on her recent appointment as dean of the School of Nursing at the University of Washington.
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  • Saying that SU is at the "stage of needing a major injection of new resources," the president reported that planning continues for the university's next fundraising campaign, which he said is expected to begin next fall.
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  • "Seamless" and "right on schedule" is how Sundborg referred to the implementation of the university's new Core curriculum, which will be in place for the fall.
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  • Middle College High School, which began operating on SU's campus in November as a partnership between the College of Education and Seattle Public Schools, is "a very strong signal" to the young people in our community that they are most welcome on our campus and it "gives the College of Education [faculty] a real opportunity to engage with the Public Schools," Sundborg said. The president discussed the newly launched Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture, led by Director Catherine Punsalan-Manlimos, and also announced the creation of the Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability, led by Director Phil Thompson, as the university's first center of excellence. "Those are good academic steps forward for the university, and we're proud of all three of these developments."
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  • A new Faculty and Staff Satisfaction Survey will be launched in March, and the results will be analyzed in comparison with the satisfaction survey that was administered in 2009.
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  • The university's 125th anniversary is coming up in 2016. The president is giving thought to how we might celebrate the milestone and is welcome to ideas and feedback from the campus community.
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  • While the details continue to be hashed out for the FY14 budget, the president said the approach is to be more strategic in how we deploy our resources. Technology is a major area of emphasis, with three distinct components: improving our infrastructure; enriching our educational programs; and responding to disruptive factors such as massive open online courses (MOOCs). The president recounted a recent Independent Colleges of Washington meeting he recently attended at which a presenter from Wesleyan University, a liberal arts school, spoke of how they are experimenting with MOOCs so they "can pivot when [they] see what direction they need to go (with regard to online education)." This approach to online education made a lot of sense for Seattle University, Fr. Sundborg said. He added that the university is taking initial steps in that direction, led by Rick Fehrenbacher, the recently hired director of continuing, online and professional education.
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  • Also in the budget is continued funding to bring faculty and staff salaries into alignment with our peers as part of a broader five-year market equity commitment, as well as funding to begin following up on recommendations that came out of the public safety management study the university recently underwent. Other areas of emphasis in the budget are bringing more coordination and consolidation to how the university presents itself through communications, branding and the like, as well as supporting the campaign.
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  • The Jesuits of the United States are in the process of merging their 10 provinces to four. SU will be part of a province encompassing all of the west coast, and the five west coast Jesuit institutions already are meeting together.
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  • The president concluded with an anecdote about how, while in Manchester, England, over the holidays, he was unexpectedly asked to celebrate all the Christmas masses at the parish where he was staying. After one of the masses, a woman approached him, saying, "Oh, Father, it was wonderful--it was just like Mass from Hollywood!" The president was not sure how to take the comment.

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