Fall 2013

With Us


Message from the Dean

Dear Alumni and Friends,

This September, faculty and students are returning to campus in anticipation of the implementation of the new core curriculum. The new core goes well beyond building a strong foundation of knowledge. Through rigorous, intentional, and engaging courses that emphasize global and contemporary issues, the core helps students understand the world deeply, develop strong intellectual skills, and prepare to be thoughtful and empowered leaders for a better world. This is the value of our liberal arts education. Details here

In this issue of our e-letter, you’ll meet students who travel abroad or across the street as part of their preparation to be thoughtful and empowered leaders. You’ll also meet alumni working in the public and private sectors whose liberal arts education has served them well personally and professionally.

As our students begin to engage in the range of activities and events that mark the beginning of school, I encourage you to travel back to campus for our Alumni Seminars Series on the Middle East or attend a concert or art exhibit. Don’t forget to join our College Facebook page to find out about the many lectures and programs we sponsor; most are free and open to the public.

I look forward to seeing you,
David V. Powers

Fall Alumni Seminars Goes Beyond the Headlines

What happened to the Arab Spring? What is the status of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks? Where is Egypt headed? What about the new government in Iran? in Egypt? What is the role of Turkey and Saudi Arabia in the region? What is the impact of events in the Middle East on the rest of the world?

Go beyond the headlines with History Professor Carmen Gitre and Law Professors Won Kildane and Russell Powell for a provocative look at events taking place in the Middle East and their effect beyond their borders.

Tuesday evenings, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
October 1, 15, and 29; November 12 and 26; December 10

Service Learning in Mexico

Each winter for the past six years, students have been participating in the U.S.-Mexico Border course that includes a trip to Tijuana, Mexico, during spring break as part of the service learning component. This year, nine students and six faculty and staff made the trip. International Studies major and recent graduate Marissa Green reports on the program.

The U.S.-Mexico Border course is taught from a non-U.S. perspective; we learned about Mexico’s history, culture, and contemporary issues from the perspective of Mexico. Our coursework focused on issues of identity, the economy, immigration, the environment, health, and vulnerability. What surprised me most about what I learned was how a legacy of revolution and corruption has become an endemic part of Mexican society that continues to fuel the dimensions of inequality.

Two weeks prior to departure, an injury prevented me from going on the trip, so I interviewed a few of my classmates to get their insights on Mexico and to shed light on how our host organization, Fundación Esperanza de Mexico (Esperance), helps a people and a nation in crisis.

Through Esperanza, students are provided the platform for a personal experience that builds on their coursework.

Classmate Serena Perry explained that the experience “put a face to the issues...talking about Mexico’s issues in the abstract is different than seeing [them] in real life…we don’t get that in the U.S.”

According to classmate Jack Hilton, Esperanza focuses on “dependence on each other first.”

Social strategies that nurture Mexican identity, promote economic welfare and good health practices, and combat issues associated with immigration, the environment, and vulnerability are the benefits of community dependence.

Esperanza’s microfinance program provides economic opportunities to develop local businesses such as La Tortillaria and their money lending program combats immigration and vulnerability by helping local families build homes.

“Owning a home is a good enough reason to stay,” Perry explained.

Esperanza also advocates for good health care through its relationship with La Clinica Esperanza. In addition to low-cost health care, the clinic has a group of “promotoras” (promoters) who work within the larger community promoting good health care practices.

Furthermore, Esperanza supports the environment in its own way by reducing its water and sewage use and taking care of its garbage.

Hilton stressed that Esperanza champions Mexican identity by giving its community the “next steps in being successful” with the sense of pride that comes from being “all made and built in Mexico.”

Although I did not have the first-hand experience my classmates did, my experience was just as meaningful. The U.S.-Mexico Border course instilled a moral foundation of global engagement through the exploration of Mexico’s history, culture, and contemporary issues as a story of hope in which a people and a nation begin to heal from within.

Faculty Profile: Claire Garoutte; Documenting the City, One Frame at a Time

Garoutte, who came to photography after meeting a Mauritanian photojournalist in college, published her first book, “Matter of Trust,” in 1996. She was working as the house photographer for glass artist Dale Chihuly when her passion for art and culture led her to Cuba. There she documented Afro-Cuban rituals, taking 67 rolls of film on the first day of the photo shoot, and later published a second book “Crossing the Water: A Path to the Afro-Cuban Spirit World.”

After an 8-year stint as education director at Photographic Center Northwest, she joined the faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences. Hired to develop a BFA in photography, Garoutte brings the same passion to her teaching as she does to her art. Today, her students eagerly follow in her footsteps.

Little Saigon, a neighborhood adjacent to campus, has been the economic and social center for Seattle’s Vietnamese population since the early 1980s. Last fall, the annual photo competition “EXPOSED: Little Saigon” offered cash prizes for winners in four categories: culture, spaces and places, food, and the marketplace. Four students joined Garoutte for two days, reviewed each other’s work, and then made their submissions.

When the awards were announced in December, junior Bridget Baker took prizes in the marketplace category, the Voters’ Choice Award, and an Artistic Excellence Award. First year student Taylor Spencer received awards in the food and marketplace categories as well as an Artistic Excellence Award. In addition, photographs by juniors Svetlana Blinderman and Felix Hidajat were chosen by jury to be included in the December exhibition.

Garoutte is now working with middle and high school students on year-round photo and video documentaries of the redevelopment of Yesler Terrace. This 561-unit public housing community, built between 1941 and 1943, sits on 30 acres close to campus. The redevelopment of Yesler Terrace will replace aging buildings with a mixed-income community that includes more than 3,000 energy efficient housing units, parks and open spaces, shops, and community centers. The $300 million redevelopment project will span 20 years. Construction is already underway, and residents will begin moving into new housing in 2014.

With the assistance of SU students, faculty, alumni, and staff, the students conduct interviews of residents and document construction and activities. Their work was showcased at a reception on August 12 and on King 5-TV: LINK  

Alumni Profile: Sarah Thibaudeau, '06

As development director, Thibaudeau is responsible for raising almost $5 million annually in support of the year-round programs of Special Olympics Washington. “Over the Edge,” one of the biggest events in western Washington, took place on August 10 and 11. More than 125 people rappelled down a 40-story building in the heart of Seattle. Right in the mix was Sarah Thibaudeau, climbing over the edge for the third time, seen here on video [LINK]. Together, they raised more than $150,000.

After graduating with a B.A. in elementary education, Thibaudeau worked for educational resource companies, providing materials for children, families, and teachers. She returned to Seattle University to receive her Master’s in Public Administration to “move into the social service area that I was raised in and give back to the community.”

Many MPA students work in the nonprofit sector while enrolled, and Thibaudeau benefited as much from the classwork as she did from her classmates.

“I broadened my perspective,” she said. “I gained insight into how a nonprofit is supported by and supports the community.”

That perspective from her classmates was invaluable as Thibaudeau joined the ASTAR Center in Seattle while getting her degree. Thibaudeau planned the center’s first auction, raising about $200,000 for comprehensive services for families affected by autism. She went on to direct the annual campaigns for Childhaven, an organization providing services for abused and neglected children before moving into her present position with Special Olympics.

“Our staff train the team coaches, arrange tournaments, and coordinate activities with a cadre of more than 8,000 volunteers,” she said. “Our development activities support athletic programs in every season and in every county for people of all ages.

Special Olympics Washington and Seattle University have a close relationship. Alumni and staff serve on the board of directors, alumni work as staff and volunteers, and students participate in the newly formed Special Olympics club on campus.

“Seattle University is an institution that is so much a part of this city, and you only have to look at the people working for our organization, as volunteers or paid staff, to see the impact the school has on our community,” she added. “Whether an alum is going over the edge of a 40-story building or a student is taking the plunge in the cold winter waters of Lake Washington, we are all working together for the athletes.”


Alumni Profile: Matt Diefenbach, '98

Although he never took a business class, as principal and business director of Turnstyle, Matt Diefenbach ’98 is no stranger to Fortune 500 companies.

“We are typically contacted when businesses have a marketing problem to solve,” Diefenbach said from his Seattle office where posters for Haiti earthquake relief, advertisements for businesses, and a snowboard for K2 line the walls. “They are looking to the creative process to genuinely connect with their audience. That’s where my psychology degree comes in handy.”

Turnstyle, a design and branding firm with offices in Seattle and Portland, works with companies of all sizes on marketing communications. Nordstrom, Microsoft, and Starbucks are joined by the NW Children’s Fund, World Concern, and Treehouse in the client list. The Turnstyle team helps companies and organizations understand how best to communicate their products and services.

Diefenbach came to marketing through the back door. A natural leader, he worked as a volunteer, counselor, and then director of the summer day camp program at his local community center. As a Sullivan Scholar, he took full advantage of campus life – facilitating retreats through Campus Ministry, tutoring adults learning English and at-risk students in after-school programs, advising incoming students – while meeting the academic requirements for a double major in Psychology and French and a minor in English.

“Psychology helped me understand what motivates people, what makes them tick. French gave me a great cultural perspective on what influences people, why they choose what they choose, but it was a Seattle University professor [Fr. Jerry Cobb, SJ] that introduced me to marketing,” he said.

Diefenbach worked for Puget Sound Personnel right out after graduation. Responsible for screening people who were unemployed, including those with disabilities, he sought employers who had tasks and environments that fit his clients. “Marketing for the good, solving business problems” is how Diefenbach refers to that time. A chance conversation with Fr. Cobb soon led to a position with Fitch International, a leading brand communications firm. There Diefenbach worked with GE, Nissan, and Microsoft, among others. Nine years ago, he and two colleagues started Turnstyle.

Organizations come to Diefenbach because they have an issue to address, usually limited time, and a need for a thoughtful and innovative solution. With his background in psychology, debate, and oral presentations, he zeroes in on their core strengths and values, gets to the heart of an issue, and determines the best way and in what context they need to communicate.

“Too much gets lost in translation, especially in the digital age,” Diefenbach said. “Businesses and organizations need to cut through the clutter so their messages can be heard.”

Whether doing pro bono work for schools, the Salvation Army, and people in need or watching a newly rebranded Air Seychelles Boeing 787 roll out on the tarmac, Diefenbach maintains balance between work, family, and service. At Turnstyle, he has put his Jesuit liberal arts education to work.

Upcoming Events

To view upcoming events, please visit the College of Arts and Sciences Calendar.