Fall 2014

With Us


Message from the Dean

Dear Alumni and Friends,

The fall is always an exciting time and this year is no exception. We welcome to campus Scott Kaiser, longtime member of the artistic staff at the Oregon Shakespeare, who will produce his play “Love’s Labor’s Won,” with faculty and students. We offer our first all-online program, a post-baccalaureate certificate to meet the growing demand for professional training in crime analysis. Philosophy Professor Jason Wirth, the new Pigott McCone Chair in Humanities, and Psychology Professor Le Xuan Hy, the new Gaffney Chair, are organizing events on topics including gratitude and the relationship of philosophy to religious life. And, as Pope Francis heads toward his second full year as Pope, our fall alumni seminar series takes a close look at his life, teachings, spirituality, and hopes for the Church and the world.

As you read here about the important work of our alumni as well as projects that provide meaningful opportunities for students to engage with faculty on research and scholarship, you will find that your alma mater has maintained its focus on the whole person. We continue to develop the intellect, the imagination, the aesthetic sense, the capacity for ethical reflection, and the critical-thinking, analytic, and communication skills required to meet the demands of our time. The College of Arts & Sciences is deeply committed to a solid, engaged liberal arts experience for our students.

None of what we do here would be possible without your support. A special thanks to all who helped us raise more than $800,000 this past year and particularly to the Honors program class of 1960-62 who created a new scholarship to honor Thomas L. O’Brien, S.J., founder of the program, and Bob Harmon, distinguished professor. Together, we can continue to provide faculty-student research, scholarships, and programming that educate students for leadership, spiritual growth, responsible citizenship, and service.

David V. Powers

Alumni Fall Seminar Series:

Pope Francis and the Future of the Church, with SU faculty presenters: Patrick Howell, S.J., Catherine Punsalan, Fr. Michael Raschko, David Leigh, S.J., and others. October - December 2014. Registration and information here.

MNPL Celebrates 20 Years of Preparing Leaders

During the past 20 years, the Master of Nonprofit Leadership (MNPL) has prepared individuals for leadership positions in the nonprofit sector.  At its standing-room only anniversary celebration on May 21, 2014, the program presented awards to three alumni who continue to make a difference in the lives of hundreds of children and adults.

Cheryl Sesnon, MNPL 2001, received the LEAD award, for outstanding leadership in her current position as the executive director at Jubilee Women’s Center, a program for women transitioning out of homelessness, and for her prior roles as the Executive Director of Washington CASH (Community Alliance for Self-Help), a microfinance and microenterprise training organization, and Executive Director of FareStart, a job training program for homeless men and women – and Jubilee partner.

“Cheryl exemplifies the program’s mission, as well as that of the university, of fostering leadership for a more just and humane world,” said Professor Maureen Emerson Feit, MNPL director. “Her leadership is courageous and focused on helping people experiencing poverty to build stable and fulfilling futures."

Ray Li, MNPL 2001, received the LEARN award for his dedication to education and professional development. He was the director Strategic Initiatives for Neighborhood House, a King County social service agency serving low-income, refugee, and immigrant communities, and Assistant Director of Development for the Greater Hartford Chapter of the American Red Cross.  Most recently, he developed a new program for international giving at the University of Washington and now serves as Director for International Advancement. The former president of the Northwest Development Officers Association and the Association of Fundraising Professionals in Washington, Li was recognized in 2010 with the Puget Sound Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 award.

“Ray has demonstrated his dedication to engaging and educating the next generation of fundraising professionals,” said Feit. “He continues to serve as a mentor who encourages students to be curious, persistent, and innovative in service of their ambitious goals to change the world.”

Diane Narasaki, MNPL 1998, received the CHANGE award for her demonstrated passion for social justice by addressing the underlying causes of inequity and injustice.  As the Executive Director of Asian Counseling & Referral Service, she engages diverse communities to collaborate and mobilize to take action for a more just and humane world. This past spring, President Obama appointed Narasaki to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.  In 2012, she received the ACLU of Washington William O. Douglas Award for her outstanding, consistent, and sustained contributions to the cause of civil liberties over the last 30 years.  She currently co-chairs the Seattle Community Police Commission.

The Master of Nonprofit Leadership in the College of Arts and Sciences provides working professionals with the leadership skills to meet the ongoing challenges facing the nonprofit sector.

Faculty-Student Research: Documenting the Worldview of a Matrilineal Society

Led by powerful Clan Mothers, the people of the Haudenosaunee Nation (Iroquois) are retrieving their history, rebuilding their nation, and creating a bridge between ancient wisdom and today’s society. For Theology and Religious Studies Professor Jeanette Rodriguez, the documentation of the worldview of this ancient matrilineal society has given new meaning to history, resilience, and spirituality that is up close and personal.

The Haudenosaunee have influenced the world by their democracy, their example for the feminist movement, and their commitment and concern for the care of the earth. Clan Mothers hold powerful positions in this matrilineal society: they name the chiefs, decide whether to go to war, lead ceremonies, and educate the children. Currently located in villages on both sides of the Canadian and United States border, the Haudenosaunee, like many indigenous people, are now dealing with centuries of cultural disruption in the form of violence, alcoholism, and social malaise.

Clan Mother Tewakierakwa is leading the process of rebuilding the nation and retrieving ancestral wisdom. Tewakierakwa met Rodriguez, a member of the American Indian Institute, at a gathering in 2010.

“This spoke to me deeply because of my previous work on cultural memory,” Rodriguez said. “I told the Clan Mother of my work with indigenous communities in the South, and she later invited me to visit the Haudenosaunee Nation in New York State.”

There, Rodriguez met with more than 100 women—lawyers, tribal police, and movers and shakers—committed to retrieving what they call “mother law.” She was also privileged to be present for their rites of passage and saw how the community adapts into contemporary modern times ancient custom.

The preparation for the rite of passage for boys and girls ages 12 to 23 takes place over a four-year period during which they learn about their culture, language and how to pray and be part of the community. At the end, they go out from the community and build their huts within a specific area that is their base for four days and four nights. They have no food or water, only blankets, flint for fires, and tobacco that they use for prayer. Their task is to be in prayer with the hope that they receive a message from the spirits that will benefit the community.

“As a theologian, it was a transformative experience for me too,” Rodriguez noted. “Their spirituality is their way of life; it’s a way of being grateful, being in the world, being conscious of that gratitude. I was a witness to that.”

Accepting the invitation to work with Clan Mother and write about the worldview of the Haudenosaunee women, Rodriguez began gathering historical documents and conducting field research. Thanks to a grant from the Dean’s Research Fund, Rodriguez enlisted the aid of history and political science junior Lauren Woo-Ermacoff. Woo-Ermacoff helped with editing, literature review, organizing historical documents, and examining how treaties have impacted the Haudenosaunee.

“It’s interesting to see a woman who is so clearly fighting to keep tradition alive and wants to make sure the tradition is translating into an acceptable, more modern format,” she said. “Having a professor that allowed me to see the more human side of history has been life-changing. Ancient wisdom should be admired and preserved, and Dr. Rodriguez helps to continue that.”

The book, entitled “Lifting Songs to Pierce the Sky: Haudenosaunee Women and the Sisterhood of Clanships,” published by SUNY Press, is due out in 2015.

Watch the video:


Faculty, Students Delve into Pop Culture

“Video game culture is really troublesome,” said Communication Professor Chris Paul. “It can be racist, misogynist, and sexist, and we need to pay attention to that.”

Gaming has skyrocketed in popularity, with annual industry revenues exceeding $20 billion. Paul, who is internationally recognized for his analysis of video games and the socio-cultural context of game design and play, is raising red flags about meritocratic undertones in games.

“People can say what they want to with impunity online,” he noted. “Games are not harmless and innocuous when they equate successful players with being better people.”

While Chris is focusing his research on meritocratic game narratives and design, he is mentoring two students on independent projects. Both led to presentations at the Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association annual meeting held in Chicago last spring.

Kathryn Smith, Strategic Communications major with a minor in Business Administration, examined games for social change.  These games attempt to extend the benefits of entertainment to include knowledge-sharing as well as a call to action. They attempt to connect individuals across the globe with information about problems such as world hunger or women’s oppression.  “Half the Sky,” for example, seeks to raise awareness of issues facing women and girls worldwide, like human trafficking and maternal mortality. In her research, Smith found that games for social change are fundamentally flawed.

“In some cases, players can’t achieve change because they leave the game after a very short time,” she noted. “Often the impact is only on the screen, and a call to action is missing.”

After researching classic game theory, she proposed a set of solutions for how they can be fixed. These included multifaceted game structure, the addition of humor, and post-game debriefing.

Anina Walas, majoring in Communication and Psychology, began researching cosplay during the summer after her sophomore year. Cosplay, short for costume play, involves participants who take on the costumes of characters in pop culture. Star Trek and Star Wars conventions, for example, take place in major cities throughout the United States and attract thousands of people who dress up as their favorite characters.

Television has built on this interest in cosplay, and Walas studied gender fluidity in a subset of cosplay, crossplay, where an individual takes on a different gender.

“Costumes provide the cosplayer with an opportunity to gender-play and explore gender attributes,” Walas said.  “As crossplay becomes more frequent in mainstream television and culture, we could begin to see it as normal, which will likely have impacts on our perceptions about gender.”

Walas notes that examples of gender fluidity can be found in various cultures throughout history. Her research focuses on how the cosplay community could reshape traditional gender concepts and stereotypes through its presence in mainstream media.

“Arina and Katie were probably two of just a handful of undergraduates allowed to present in Chicago,” Paul said. “It’s a testimony to the value of their research to the field.”

Walas and Smith, now seniors, are editing their papers with plans to submit them to academic journals. Paul expects to publish a book on gaming in 2015.

Alumni Profile: Loren Atherley, MACJ Class of '10

While riding along with police officers at 4 a.m., Loren Atherley heard the call to investigate a suicide. It’s all part of his job conducting research as the Senior Management Systems Analyst for the Seattle Police Department Compliance and Professional Standards Bureau.

After its report indicated that Seattle police officers routinely used excessive force, the U.S. Department of Justice entered into an agreement with the Seattle Police Department (SPD) to institute a series of reforms. The 76-page agreement addresses the areas of crisis intervention, use of force, stops and detention, bias-free policing, and supervision. MA Criminal Justice alum Loren Atherley ’10 provides data and analysis that track the department’s progress.  

“The reform process is really important, and that’s the process I serve,” Atherley said from his office in SPD headquarters. “I compile qualitative and quantitative data to analyze our performance.”

Atherley’s analysis focuses on police organization and behavior. To determine how the department’s progress, he utilizes surveys, including community surveys, and numerical data, like calls for service. During a recent organizational assessment, he spent 15 ten-hour days riding along with officers in every precinct and on every watch, witnessing how they responded to calls that range from handling stray animals to investigating a suicide.

“What is really surprising to me is the emotional breadth of the job,” he said. “The officers are very competent professionals going about their work in a very deliberative and very compassionate way. At the end of each shift, we talked about how they’ve developed professionally and what the department can do to support them.”

Atherley has always worked in public service, beginning as an 11-year-old intern for the National Park Service. He did search-and-rescue for the Stevens County Sheriff throughout his high school years. A Political Science undergraduate at Seattle University, class of ‘07, he returned to the Park Service as a ranger during the summer.

“At the end of my political science coursework, I developed a passion for law enforcement,” he recalled. “It’s where the rubber meets the road – the interface between people who are there to serve and the people who need their service.”

Atherley chose to purse the MA in Criminal Justice with a specialization in investigative criminology. He interned in the investigative division of the Social Security Administration where he worked on Social Security and welfare fraud and identity theft. He spent a second internship with the King County Sheriff in its special operations unit where he was involved in a national child abduction case.

Atherley’s academic interest gravitated towards criminal psychopathy and police behavior. He took advantage of the opportunity to conduct research with Professor Matt Hickman that resulted in the publication of two articles: “Police Misconduct” in Police Quarterly (2013) and “Police Use of Force” in Policing (2014). He also wrote a section in Professor Helfgott’s book Criminal Psychology (Praeger, 2013) and gave a presentation on profiling psychopathic traits in serial sexual homicide at the International Conference on Law and Mental Health in Amsterdam in 2013. He plans to present a paper on “Justifying Violence: Primitive Defenses in Law Enforcement Use of Force” at the international law and mental health conference in Vienna next year.

Atherley credits his master’s degree and the particularly his research with faculty in putting him on his career path: “The work I did with Matt Hickman helped me get this job at SPD. I began to build a reputation as an expert in police use of force and police organization and that was really the extra leg up I needed to get this position.”

Watch the video:


Alumni Profile: Jonathan Standridge, Class of '97

“A typical day for me at Boeing can be as diverse as the weather in the Pacific Northwest,” said Jonathan Standridge, Liberal Studies major, class of 1997. Strandridge, Boeing's 737 Program Employee Involvement Lead, works with more than 600 employee involvement teams as a trainer, coach, and mentor.

“We understand that we need to get better,” Standridge emphasized. “We need to make a better airplane. We need to make it quicker, save costs, and keep quality high. The people who know best how to do that are the people who work on the airplane day to day. They see where improvements can be made. With empowerment comes responsibility. My job is to help our employees take the passion that comes with that ownership and put all that creativity into moving us forward as a company.”

Standridge spends most of his time meeting with individuals, including top-tier executives, to address employee and management concerns. He also trains employees to be effective members and leaders of employee involvement teams. In his recent Facilitation 101 class, for example, individuals from all over the company learned how to bring people together, focus on a common goal, and use tools to deal with conflict. The two-day intensive class gave employees ample time to discuss issues and practice what they learned. 

As a teen, Standridge struggled with drug addiction before joining the Navy. During boot camp, an officer gave him a second chance to get clean and sober, and realizing that opportunity, Standridge turned his life around. He returned to civilian life eight years later, attended community college, and found his way to Seattle University. Standridge was hired at Boeing right after graduation.

“Liberal Studies had the balance I was looking for,” he recalled. “It’s not looking at a problem through a single lens but taking a problem, an issue, or an opportunity and looking at it through multiple lenses.”

“You see the multiple influences that will be on your life and the lives of those around you as you go through the educational experience,” he added. “That is the strength of Liberal Studies. It’s not clear cut.”

While a student, Standridge worked in an after-school program, experiencing what it meant to be a mentor and building relationships with students and their families. By his senior year, he sought a career where he could put into practice his multidisciplinary education, understanding of systems, and problem-solving skills.

Standridge joined Boeing in a coaching position. He has worked in various units--defense and space, shared services group, intellectual property and information protection, and engineering-- earning a master’s degree in project management along the way.

Outside of Boeing, Standridge mentors teens in high school in addition to the famous “Barefoot Bandit,” who is still in prison, a model in New York City, and disabled veterans.

“It’s about helping people find their way,” he said. “People have come alongside me and have helped me, and it’s my responsibility then to pass that forward. My philosophy is changing the world one person at a time, and it is through mentorship that I intend to do that.”

Watch the video: