SU Voice Alumni Blog

Going Test-Optional in Fall 2021

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on May 7, 2020 at 9:05 AM PDT

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, universities have undergone a difficult transition from in-person to distance learning. Seattle University began remote instruction in March, and despite the disruptive nature of such a gargantuan shift, students, faculty and staff are making the best of a tough situation.

Provost Shane P. Martin, PhD, is helping to lead the university through this period of adversity. Reflecting on the student response to virtual learning, Provost Martin says, “The feedback that we’ve gotten from our students is that they are finding their courses to be highly engaging and they are finding the faculty to be accessible. Faculty are being creative and innovative. They are working very hard and we are so grateful to them. They’ve really stepped up at this time and they have done it for our students.” 

Questions about the uncertainty of current and prospective students has shaken the higher education landscape. Universities have quickly pivoted their strategies for retention and admission as everyone attempts to project the future. High school students are also impacted by this uncertainty as they run into college preparation barriers. As spring and summer SAT and ACT exams continue to be cancelled due to coronavirus, many students are left unable to get the required testing preparation and exams necessary to apply to college.  

The current challenges high school students are facing makes the implementation of the university’s planned test-optional admission policy more important than ever. “The best predictor of one’s future success is one’s current success,” says Provost Martin. “We need to look at things like GPA, the whole curriculum a student is involved in, their statement of intent, letters of reference and class standing.” 

Beginning in fall 2021, first time in college applicants can choose not to submit standardized test scores as part of the application process. After analyzing issues around tests and test-optional policies for over a year before the COVID-19 pandemic, the university’s decision to enact a test-optional policy for first-time college applicants highlights the university’s desire to build an inclusive student body. Research indicates that standardized entrance exams are not the best indicator of how a high school student will fair in college. In addition, standardized tests can put high school students from marginalized communities in a disadvantaged position.  

“There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that the standardized tests by their very nature and how they’re put together have an inherent bias. Culturally speaking, students that have had less access to the cultural capital that are referenced in these exams start out on an uneven playing field compared to those who have had more opportunities to be exposed to the topics in these exams.”  

The university also hopes that this will create less uncertainty over admissions in the COVID-19 era, as students who have been unable to take standardized tests will still have the opportunity to gain admission to Seattle University.

While some have expressed concern that such policies may impact quality of education, Provost Martin is working to alleviate their apprehension. “This test-optional policy doesn’t change our commitment to inclusive academic excellence. It doesn’t change our commitment to high standards and to rigor. In fact, in many ways it only enhances it.  

“This also fits us very well in terms of our commitment to Jesuit education,” says Provost Martin, “We talk about looking at the whole person – mind, body, soul, spirit – not just how you do on a standardized text. It’s very consistent with our mission, our values and who we are.” 

As universities across the country are facing a decline in enrollment due to COVID-19, it is more important than ever for Seattle U alumni to advocate for their alma mater and educate prospective students on the benefits of a Jesuit education.  

According to Provost Martin, “Alumni are among our most important ambassadors for the university. They can help Seattle U recruit prospective students by sharing their experience with their families, friends and co-workers – what they loved about this institution, what made a difference for them and what helped them achieve the success they experience today. It’s very important that our alumni see that this is a great way that they can give back to the university.”

Changing Business in the Wake of COVID-19

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on May 7, 2020 at 9:05 AM PDT

Steve Brooks standing in front of hand washing sinks manufactured by UMCCommunities across the United States are coming together to tackle the devastating repercussions of the COVID-19. Although social distancing and stay-at-home orders are working to flatten the curve and slow the rate of infection, many are still experiencing unprecedented financial hardships as a result of the pandemic.

Steve Brooks, ’98, ’19, vice president of business development at UMC, is driving an innovative solution to help at-risk communities stay healthy while keeping employees in the workforce. “The change in the world comes from business,” says Brooks, "and it’s upon the business leaders in our community to really come up and create the social justice solutions that the community needs.”

UMC is a mechanical contracting company that plans, builds and manages buildings, facilities and construction projects. When the COVID-19 devastated typical operations at UMC, causing furloughs and revenue loss, Brooks and the leadership team decided to modify their business offerings.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), frequent handwashing is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself and others from contracting COVID-19. Acting on this information, Brooks and his team decided that instead of creating building infrastructure, UMC would design and manufacture portable handwashing stations. This pivot has allowed UMC to sustain more than 30 full-time jobs while continuing to serve an emergent community need.

The prototype was originally designed for use at UMC construction sites to promote a safer, healthier workplace and includes elements such as a six-foot space between basins to follow social distancing requirements. The idea has since gained traction, and interest in UMC’s mobile sinks has spread. 

“Medical facilities called us. Boeing called us. Then there were some friends we knew that ran homeless shelters,” Brooks says. “They told us that this population didn’t really have access to an opportunity to wash their hands and to keep clean, because those experiencing homelessness often use public facilities that are now closed. We’ve built a handful of units that are small and more compact that we’re delivering to homeless shelters to provide additional opportunities for them.”

Current clients include Seattle-area general contractors such as Skanska and Turner, the City of Seattle, New Hope Shelter in Puyallup and Top of the Hill Quality Produce in Renton.

Brooks graduated from Seattle University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a certificate in Executive Leadership. He has been inspired by SU’s Jesuit mission, particularly its focus on social justice and care for the whole person. “[The mobile sink] helps us in construction, but situations like this are hitting the marginalized much harder than the rest of us. What we can do as a company and as a team is to help alleviate some of the barriers that these communities might have.”

His advice for other Seattle University alumni is simple but inspiring: "We all have to contribute some of our resources to those who are really in need.”

Learn more about UMC.

Helping the Hardest Hit Communities

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on May 7, 2020 at 9:05 AM PDT

Alumnus Gordon McHenry standing on a bridge in front of downtown Seattle

Any disaster will put a strain on individuals, families and communities. But a world health pandemic, such as COVID-19, has highlighted systemic issues such as unequal wealth distribution, racial injustice and the inequity in our healthcare system.

According to Public Health - Seattle King County COVID-19 is impacting communities of color at a higher rate. This new analysis shows that the rates for confirmed cases and hospitalizations are showing racial disparities.

“COVID-19 has devastated the economy and health care. This means that vulnerable communities have fewer resources, have less resilience, and have very limited to no places to turn other than the non-profit community or the public sector,” said Gordon McHenry, Jr., ’79, president and CEO of United Way of King County. “What we have experienced both in terms of direct services as well as in our communication with nonprofits who work in communities of color and low income communities is that everything has gotten worse, and in a very rapid way.”

McHenry went on to explain that “when we began to understand the impacts of COVID-19 on the community, we immediately started conversations with some of our corporate partners and with the Seattle Foundation. We rapidly agreed that the most powerful step forward would be for us to virtually stand shoulder to shoulder and raise up the need and the opportunity to give money to support the most vulnerable in our community.” These partnerships have raised more than $20 million for the Seattle Foundation's Community Response Fund, some of which has been distributed to 128 different organizations that serve communities of color, immigrant, refugee and senior populations and people with disabilities. Currently, phase two of funding, which will be distributed in the coming weeks, will support emergency financial assistance, mental and behavioral health, childcare and food security.

United Way’s mission of bringing people, public health, corporate and other non-profit partners together to help the community has benefited some of the most at-risk people and families. The need in the community is great and continuing to increase.  So United Way launched a COVID-19 Community Relief Fund to raise money to support households needing rental assistance and families who are hungry and need help securing food.  Their food assistance program currently serves 3,500 families with meals and its rental assistance program served 2,000 families who were struggling to make rent in April. Despite these successes, there are more applicants than funding available to support them.

Through all of this, McHenry is passionately leading his organization with a focus on social justice and racial equity to support and serve the common good. “I am so proud to lead an organization that will help our communities survive. We have a great team, lot of great supporters, partners, donors and volunteers. We all wake up wanting to be as active and impactful as possible.”

As the effects of COVID-19 continue to unfold, McHenry says, “volunteerism is really important and can and should be done in a time of crisis.” His recommendation to alumni is to take action by making a donation to United Way or wherever you see personal alignment or need in your community.

Find out ways you can help United Way of King County.

SU Voice Survey Results Are In!

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on April 2, 2020 at 2:04 PM PDT

A sincere thank you to everyone that took the time to complete the SU Voice survey. We had 52 respondents answer questions that will help us refine the content that we put in this newsletter to alumni as well as help us define and plan for new programming for the future. Find some of the highlighted sections of the report below. 

Results showed the majority of readers who answered the survey are either neutral or satisfied with the SU Voice alumni newsletter. 

A bar graph that illustrates the how satisfied or unsatisfied respondents are with the newsletter

 

Respondents were most interested in reading about the following five topics: university news, alumni member benefits, class notes, alumni profiles and upcoming events.

A bar graph that highlights the top five content areas that people are interested in read about in the SU voice

 

Survey results also shed light on alumni interest in attending various in-person events.

A bar graph showing interest of event attendance by event type.

As we continue to strategically determine our next steps for expanding our connection to alumni, we are grateful that you have given us this information so we are able to start, stop or continue various programming and communications with you. Our goal is to deepen relationships between the university and our alumni that foster lifelong connection and support to open pathways to engagement in the life of the university.

Care on the Frontlines: An Alumna's Expertise with COVID-19

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on April 2, 2020 at 12:04 PM PDT

Naomi Diggs profile picture wearing her doctor's coat in her office with a bookshelf in the backgroundOn January 21, the Center for Disease Control announced that the first novel coronavirus (COVID-19) case in the U.S. was in Washington state. Since then, the state has identified quarantine locations, closed public schools and businesses, waived testing costs and most recently issued a Stay Home, Stay Healthy order that requires residents to stay home unless they need to pursue an essential activity. These efforts have been put in place to help flatten the curve of the virus and slow the rate of infection, and to give our hospitals and healthcare workers a fighting chance. 

Naomi Diggs, MD, ’04, '20 is a physician and leader at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle where she is part of the coordinated COVID-19 response team. She and other Swedish leaders have been working around the clock to ensure adequate PPE supplies, access to testing, and ability to manage a surge of patients. Dr. Diggs leads a large team of physicians who care for acutely ill patients across all five Swedish hospitals in the Puget Sound. Diggs is accustomed to hectic days leading her team during the pandemic.  In addition to caring for patients, her work includes ensuring accurate communication across the organization between her colleagues in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and emergency department.   

“We are cautiously optimistic that social distancing is working. So far, Seattle is not like New York where the healthcare system is at risk of being completely overwhelmed. We are constantly working on obtaining resources and improving our operations to prepare,” said Diggs. While pandemic training isn’t explicitly a part of medical school, Diggs said that as a physician, she and her colleagues have been training their entire careers for this kind of crisis. “The physicians on my team have been on the frontlines of many different epidemics from SARS to H1N1 and even HIV-AIDS. While the scale of coronavirus is unprecedented, taking care of sick people is what we are trained to do.” 

As a Leadership Executive MBA student and recent graduate of the Executive Leadership Program at Seattle University, Diggs has developed greater insight into her motivation for showing up and leading. Healthcare workers do not have the luxury of holing up in their homes to shield themselves from coronavirus. Countless Swedish caregivers get up each day and make the choice to leave the safety of their homes and head to work. Diggs said “When people go into healthcare, they know they’re not making widgets. We are living our mission each day. We’re getting a lot of attention now, but this is what heath care is every day. We take care of the sick and ill.” 

Diggs continued, “Honestly, it’s quite inspiring to be in healthcare now.” New information is being gathered locally and around the world to help hospitals treat patients and better understand this disease.  Diggs noted, “I am proud of us as a discipline. Not only are we taking care of patients, but we are also handling the data and science at the same time. We have trials going on that are literally affecting how we handle patients and protocols in real time.” 

Diggs continues to do her part and when asked how Seattle U alumni can help, she advised, “Continue social distancing, get your information from accurate and reputable sources and take care of your neighbors, friends and families.  The only way we will get through this is if everyone does their part.” 

If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, check out the CDC Symptom & Testing website for a coronavirus self-checker, call your doctor’s office or schedule a virtual visit through Swedish Medical Center. 

COVID-19 Brings Challenges and New Opportunities

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on April 2, 2020 at 10:04 AM PDT

Throughout these unprecedented times, Seattle University has kept the health, safety and well-being of our students and the university community paramount. Since we last communicated about our COVID-19 response, President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., released a video message, calling on us to “look out for one another and care for one another.” Watch the video.  

Faculty are busy preparing to teach virtually when the quarter starts on Monday, April 6 and staff across campus are working to create engaging experiences for students and alumni for our current reality. As Fr. Steve said, “While this is a time we need to keep our distance physically, it is as important as ever that we stay connected.”

Despite these challenging times, the Seattle University Alumni Association is building programming options that will cultivate robust virtual communities where you can engage with the SU alumni community both near and far. Check our website regularly and stay connected to us via Facebook, TwitterInstagram or LinkedIn to get programmatic updates.
 

Virtual Programs, Events and Resources

Seattle University and partner organizations are offering a variety of ways to engage with your alma mater and community during this time.

 
Professional Development

In light of current circumstances, we will be waiving fees for the following Career Conversations and Tools for Trasition series.

Spirituality

Community and Service

Fun!

Seattle U continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and regularly updates the community through its coronavirus website to reflect the latest state and university developments. 

It's Going to be Clawsome!

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on April 2, 2020 at 9:04 AM PDT

Its Going to Be Clawsome Albers Crab Feed Website Banner

Grab those crab cakes and join us online! In lieu of an in-person gathering, the 18th Annual Albers Alumni Crab Feed will be transitioning to a virtual auction. Our goal to empower the next generation of ethical leaders through scholarships and distinctive Jesuit education depends on your continued support and competitive spirit. Join us for a week of bidding on a plethora of fantastic packages, all from the comfort of your home! All net proceeds from the online auction will support current and future Albers student scholarships. 
    
Here are ways you can participate: 

  • Bid generously on exciting auction items when our online catalog goes live on Friday, April 3, 2020.  We have many items this year that we’ve never had at the Crab Feed before!  
  • Support a Scholar! Make a gift to support scholarships for Albers students by virtually raising your paddle. Remind friends to take advantage of any eligible corporate giving matches! 
  • Share our online auction with your network – The best part about a virtual Crab Feed is that everyone can come! 
  • Check our event page for more information.

Let’s get crackin’! See you online starting on April 3rd! 

SUAA Expands Spirituality Offerings

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on March 4, 2020 at 12:03 PM PST

On March 1, the Seattle U Alumni Association (SUAA) officially started its partnership with the Ignatian Spirituality Center (ISC) to offer Ignatian program offerings directly to Seattle University alumni. Already a partner with other areas of the university, ISC responds to the spiritual hunger in our world by providing spiritual direction services and programs intended to “assist persons of all faiths to serve Christ’s mission of compassion, healing and justice.”

The ISC offers a wide variety of programs and retreats to meet you where you are in your spiritual journey and to help you deepen and explore your relationship with God. By using the Ignatian lens to faith, which focuses on discernment, finding God in all things and becoming contemplatives in action, the ISC is able to serve alumni of all faith traditions and stages of life.

“We are excited to bring an expanded suite of quality spirituality offerings to our alumni in partnership with the Ignatian Spirituality Center. They are leaders in Ignatian formation and spiritual development in the Seattle area. Through this partnership, we are able to meet our alumni’s requests for more spirituality programming,” says Jonathan Brown, Assistant Vice President of the Seattle University Alumni Association.

Weekend and one-day retreats invite you to engage in reflection and discernment and experience the gifts of Ignatian prayer and contemplation. Spiritual direction services connect alumni with spiritual directors who can support them as they navigate life choices. This Ignatian Life series explores the intersection of Ignatian spirituality and current issues, such as immigration and the climate crisis, in daily life and culture. A series for men invites them to reflect on relevant life issues using an Ignatian lens.

ISC has two program for younger alumni. IgNite program retreats are geared toward the specific needs and interests of our alumni aged 21-35. Contemplative Leaders in Action (CLA) is a two-year faith formation and leadership development program for young adults (20's and 30's) that nurtures individual growth and strives to develop a cohort of leaders who can bring the dynamics of faith and justice to lead their families, co-workers and communities.

While ISC programs are not exclusively for Seattle U alumni, as we look toward the future, we have the possibility of SU-only programming and bringing ISC programs to campus.

A few of the upcoming events:

Novena of Grace
Tuesday, March 10—Wednesday, March 18

WEEKDAYS
12:30 pm at Chapel of St. Ignatius, Seattle University (Eucharist)
6:30 pm at St. Joseph Church, Seattle (Contemplative Prayer)*
SATURDAY: 
1:00 pm at St. Joseph Church (Eucharist)
SUNDAY:
1:00 pm at Chapel of St. Ignatius (Eucharist)
Gerry Scully, Mary Pauline Diaz-Frasene, and Fr. Mike Bayard, Retreat Presenters

This Ignatian Life: Reimagining Racial Justice
Sunday, March 29, 2020
1-4 p.m.
St. Joseph Parish Center, Seattle
Jimmy McCarty & Marilyn Nash, Presenters

God at Work: Young Adults Practicing Ignatian Spirituality in the Workplace
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
6:30-9 p.m.
Seattle Preparatory School, Seattle

Learn more about the Ignatian Spirituality Center and their retreats and programs.

High School Summer Scholars Institutes at Seattle University

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on March 4, 2020 at 11:03 AM PST

a group photo of students involved in the SU summer scholar institute

This year Seattle University will provide two residential high school academic enrichment summer camps for current ninth, tenth, and eleventh grade students. At the foundation of both programs are social justice and innovation. As alumni of Seattle University, we welcome applications from your children and youth you work with to provide this opportunity that will allow them to explore higher education in a fun, challenging, hands-on, empowering way while earning college credits.

Seattle University’s Summer Business Institute is an Albers School of Business & Economics (Albers SBI) program focused on social entrepreneurship. The weeklong overnight program operates from July 5-10, 2020. Young scholars will stay in residential halls, dine at Cherry Street Market and engage with our corporate partners. Also, Albers SBI provides young scholars the opportunity to explore entrepreneurship, marketing, data visualization, accounting, economics and more.

The Seattle University AI4ALL is a two-week residential experience from July 12-24, 2020, for high school students interested in criminal law and artificial intelligence (AI). Throughout the two weeks, young scholars will learn about the intersection of modern technology and criminal justice issues, such as facial recognition, bias, and equity. This program is hands-on and will include engagement with law enforcement and Seattle area tech companies.

Nonetheless, Seattle University’s Summer Scholars Institutes are about more than the classes. Scholars who successfully complete their programs will receive support in college essays, scholarship searches, resume writing and more! Priority deadline for applications close on March 30, 2020. Also, scholarships are available for Washington state students and children of alumni to Seattle University.

 

Crosscut Festival 2020

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on March 4, 2020 at 10:03 AM PST

a group of women holding crosscut and Seattle University drawstring bags

The Crosscut Festival at Seattle University will be back on campus Saturday May 2 and we’d love to see there! Like years previous, the Crosscut Festival will feature dynamic and nationally renowned speakers. Engage with well-known headliners, respected journalists, and critical thinkers around five dynamic topics: business, politics, race and social justice, science and environment, and headliners.

As Seattle University alumni, you can email alumni@seattleu.edu and request 1-2 complimentary general admission tickets. You will be entered into a lottery for a limited number of tickets and will be notified by April 8 if you are selected. Don't want to wait? Purchase discounted alumni tickets. Come to the festival to reconnect with your fellow alums, engage in thought-provoking conversations, support local media and Seattle University.   

2019’s schedule provides some insight into what to expect for 2020. Even though planning for the Festival is far from complete, you will recognize many names booked so far: former US Senator Jeff Flake, PSB NewsHour anchor and managing editor Judy Woodruff, journalist and commentator Soledad O’Brien, Montana Governor Steve Bullock and many more to come.

Look for a full rollout of names later this month and if you’d like to get the news as it breaks, sign up for updates.