On September 17, Dean David V. Powers welcomed Arts and Sciences faculty and staff to the new academic year at this year’s convocation. Following is an excerpt from his opening remarks.
We begin 2018-19 with the largest incoming class we have ever had, including 1,103 freshmen and 464 transfer students, so far. Those new students are joining a remarkable group in the College of Arts & Sciences, a community of students that just last year included two Gilman scholars, one Whitney Museum Summer Internship awardee, two Princeton Public Policy and International Affairs awardees, four Fulbright scholars, two Truman finalists, and one Truman Scholar. Seventeen percent of our students go directly to graduate school within six months of graduation and 93% of them enter their next role within six months of graduating, be that graduate school, work, or a service-related position like Jesuit volunteer corps or the Peace Corps.
Our students reach those heights because our faculty members lead, supported by them, faculty who are outstanding educators, high quality scholars, and very talented creative artists. Along with great pedagogy, they have once again accomplished solid scholarly and creative work over the past year, serving as leaders in where their fields are going. In 2017, our faculty published eight books, 54 peer-reviewed journal articles, 23 book chapters and essays, and developed 50 new creative works. There are an increasing number of external grants led by A&S faculty, and ten of them hold journal editorships, leading and shaping the direction of scholarship across their fields.
None of that happens without the commitment and engagement of an incredibly talented group of staff members, an indispensable part of all of this student and faculty work while at the same time this year helping coordinate the biggest office move we have experienced since the Casey building first opened in 1987. Our staff members are critical in making our mission happen every day and we deeply appreciate their work.
At last year’s convocation, I focused on four points I thought were critical to us succeeding with our mission through the challenging and changing times faced by higher education today:
Today I want to focus on the fourth point, our together-ness, our academic community, what it means to be in an academic community (or what I think it means), and why it is important to build it up, build each other up and benefit from the mutual support, insight, and contributions we can give to each other and toward our common effort.
That conversation starts with recognizing our foundation as an academic institution. I believe the central role of universities in human civilization is the growth and extension of knowledge and creativity at the highest level of human capacity. Growth is about new discoveries in knowledge and creativity. Extension is about sharing what is known and created, in classroom teaching and a host of other engagements on campus, online, in our neighborhood and around the world.
That foundation is shaped, more particularly, by who we are as a Jesuit institution. We are committed to an integrative, holistic perspective, with care for others, careful discernment and intellectual rigor as priorities. Seattle University is especially connected in a very active way to the social justice component of the Jesuit Catholic mission, as we see in our mission statement of: educating the whole person, professional formation, and empowering leaders for a more just and humane world.
Many of us join this community not just because of our broader role as a university, but for our specific mission as a Jesuit comprehensive university. I know that is what drew me, that I thought I could contribute and grow here, not just as a professional but as a person, given the expressed values of the institution and how I saw them lived out. We have lively conversations about those values and live them out imperfectly as an institution and as individuals, but sincerely work to live them out through both easier and more challenging times.
I think of our convocation as a time to share our excitement about the year ahead with refreshed enthusiasm. However, I feel I must note that is a more challenging time than usual for many due to recent events. I have spoken with faculty and staff who have found their commitment to our work as a Jesuit Catholic institution shaken, because of the ongoing revelations of the sex abuse scandals in the church, most recently in Pennsylvania. These revelations show wide-ranging, systemic institutional dishonesty and failure, cover-ups of abuses that are directly against our value of care for others, and basic human rights of others generally.
But the mission and values of Seattle University, the hard work we do, and the progress I believe we are making overall, honestly with occasional steps back, but ultimately and authentically forward overall, are what keep me committed to our work and our community. Our work and progress inspire me to be among you who chose to be in academic community here, to direct education toward a greater good we see here.
A university should be a place where everyone can contribute and engage to their maximum potential, where we take a fair look at ideas and a critical look at barriers that constrain contribution, then come together and move ahead. I think it is particularly important in our context as we strive to meet major new challenges and thrive in the 21st century. Today we will start talking about our strategic goals for the university and for the college. The richer the input from all of us, the more we will be ready to make plans that help our students and our mission succeed over the next several years.
David V. Powers, PhD
Beginning with the 2017-18 academic year, the Communication Department launched the new BA in Communication and Media. Rather than multiple majors, the new degree offers three areas of specialization, Communication Studies, Journalism, and Strategic Communication. Students may choose one or more of the specializations.
“We chose to change the major because our students were coming into the major not seeing the differences among the three existing majors and they were all generally moving into the same kinds of jobs,” says Communication Department Chair, Dr. Christopher Paul. “We wanted to offer a more flexible major that best served our students while retaining the rigor of a quality academic curriculum. We wanted to press on the front edge of where the field was at and use our status as a social justice institution to push our students to make the world a better place.”
We recently talked with faculty and students about the degree and new specializations, and the conversations are featured in a new series of videos for the Communication and Media website.
Recent graduate Phoebe Kim and Dr. Caitlin Carlson talk about the benefits of the degree.
Check out the companion videos for the specializations:
Communication and Media students are enthused about the degree and the opportunities they see for the future. “As a Strategic Communication major and Public Affairs minor, I’ve been able to merge my passions for storytelling and public advocacy,” says Marta Gamez, 2019. “I am passionate about building connections: helping bridge the gap between people and resources. My education has encouraged me to explore diverse perspectives and apply problem-solving skills to analyze and address social problems."
Marc Gleckman, 2019, says, “Communication is a super broad degree, and that’s the beauty of it. You study communication, but it’s expected that you do something else on the side. For me, that’s music. I’ve related a lot that I’ve learned from Rhetoric and Society and Interpersonal Communication back to music, developing strategies to grow my music, grow other people’s music, and manage and develop my record label.”
This summer, Seattle University welcomed 17 scholars and educators from 17 different countries for four weeks of academic residency in Seattle and two weeks of study tour to LA, Berkeley/SF, and DC. These professors came from all around the globe for the Study of the U.S. Institute for Scholars on Contemporary American Literature (SUSI), a Fulbright-related program directed by Charles Tung, PhD, now Chair of English at Seattle U. Ken Allan, Associate Professor of Art and Art History, served as the associate director. Dan Benston and Elizabeth Boyle served as assistant coordinators.
This year’s participants included Megha Adhikari, Nepal; Miloš Blahut, Slovak Republic; Tatiana de Freitas Massuno, Brazil; Fatma Tokoz Goktepe, Turkey; Asma Dhouioui, Tunisia; Azzaya Dashzeveg, Mongolia; Simone Duval, Israel; Alena Hulevich, Belarus; Matilda Kechie, Togo; Ouassila Korichi, Algeria; Nataliia Liubarets, Ukraine; Usa Padgate, Thailand; Mundi Rahayu, Indonesia; Ruth San-A-Jong, Suriname; Zeenat Taher, India; Anita Neira Tiemann, Chile; and Kusi Toh, Cameroon.
Reflecting upon this year’s experience, Dr. Usa Padgate from Thailand, said, “My six weeks at SUSI-SU is the most valuable professional experience I have ever had. The seminars, workshops, visits to museums and historical places, and discussions with colleagues from all over the world have broadened my horizon of American literature, art, culture, and life. I cannot wait to share what I have learned here with the academic community in Thailand.”
Dr. Tatiana de Freitas Massuno from Brazil added, “Never would I have imagined that a 6-week-program would be so transformative. Not only were we able to get acquainted with cutting-edge theories and really contemporary texts, but also to get to know 17 amazing scholars from all around the world.”
During the summer, the group studied with Professor Brian Reed, Dean of Humanities, University of Washington; novelist Dr. Sonora Jha (SU Communications); fiction writer Dr. Juan Carlos Reyes (SU English); 2017-19 Seattle Civic Poet Anastacia-Reneé Tolbert; and Dr. Christina Roberts, Director, SU Indigenous Peoples’ Institute. The Institute participants also enjoyed seminars with professors from a number of other institutions, including Stanford, UC Berkeley, Rice, Florida State, Scripps, Georgetown, University of Maryland, and Hamilton College. A message from Washington Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib was shared with the scholars at this year’s farewell dinner. “On behalf of Washington state, thank you for spending the past several weeks contributing to the vibrant academic community we are so proud of in our state. Thank you also to the leadership of Seattle University for once more bringing the SUSI to our region. We are especially pleased to have all of you in our state this year, because the works of literature you have been studying, and the questions you have been exploring, are more important now than ever. As the United States, and the world, struggle with questions of identity and their implications for politics and policy, our need for critical thinking and skilled communication becomes greater. Our world needs those who have been trained to think both critically and empathically to help interpret conflicting perspectives, and to find ways to communicate across barriers."
Stesha Brandon, of UNESCO’s Seattle City of Literature, built upon that sentiment in her remarks at the farewell dinner: “As you all well know, literature can act as a window. And it can act as a mirror. It can reflect our experiences or introduce us to new ones. It allows us to build empathy and understanding; to pay witness; and to grapple with difficult concepts and emotions. You come to this conference at a time when our country and our community is exploring and redefining what it means to be American, what it means to have literature of, and for, the United States.”
Sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the Department of State, the goals of the Institute include more complex conceptions of U.S. history, society, and institutions; new materials and paths for research and teaching in participants’ home countries; and connections that foster peaceful, mutual understanding and the possibility for further intellectual and institutional exchange. In academic seminars, participants encounter a diverse set of contemporary U.S. authors and artists, different kinds of cultural expression, and a variety of American colleagues from Seattle University and institutions around the country who represent a range of disciplinary approaches to literature and culture.
Learn more at the SUSI website.
Have you been thinking about graduate school? Do you know someone considering an advanced degree? We have many opportunities to explore both Seattle University graduate programs and a wider range of graduate schools this fall.
Seattle University Graduate Admission hosts the Fall SU Grad Open House on Friday, October 5 from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Student Center. All 34 graduate programs and more than 30 certificates and the School of Law will be represented. The open house includes program breakout sessions for select programs, campus tours, financial aid representatives, and refreshments. RSVP here.
The 2018 Idealist Fair on Monday, October 15 in Campion Ballroom is co-sponsored by SU Graduate Programs in Public Administration and the SU Nonprofit Leadership Program. In addition to those two programs, Seattle University Master of Arts in Psychology, Master of Social Work, Albers School of Business and Economics, and College of Education will be onsite. If you are in the San Francisco area, MPA and MNPL reps will be at that Idealist Fair on Monday, October 8.
Each of the College of Arts and Sciences graduate programs offer information sessions, online and in person, throughout the year. Learn more about our programs and see the list of upcoming information sessions.You can also take a look at the Seattle U Grad Viewbook.
The College of Arts and Sciences, in partnership with SU's School of Theology and Ministry and School of Law, and Elliott Bay Book Company, welcomed former Secretary of State John Kerry to campus to talk about his new book, Every Day is Extra. KUOW recorded the conversation and it is available on their website.
As noted in our Summer issue, the Indigenous Peoples Institute is moving into their new space, with offices and a lounge. You are invited to the dedication on October 6 from 4 to 6 p.m. The celebration starts at Pigott Auditorium and then everyone will visit the new location in Xavier Hall. RSVPs requested.
An update on our new initiative, Pathways to Professional Formation, is also available in the Arts and Sciences News Section.
Nominations for the 34th Annual Alumni Awards are open until October 1. Learn about the categories and submit a nomination.
Your gift of time, know-how, or financial support helps provide an increased level of excellence that supports students, faculty, research, core programs, and new College initiatives. Your investment inspires others to give, helping raise our profile and reputation in the community.
Now through Oct. 20, the latest exhibtion in the Hedreen Gallery.
Now through the end of October, Kinsey Gallery, ADAL. Exhibition of our photo competition award-winning student and faculty photos.
Oct. 10, 6 p.m., Campion Ballroom. Save the date and check our calendar for details.
Nov. 8, 7 p.m., Pigott Auditorium. Dr. Natalia Imperatori-Lee, the Ann O’Hara Graff Lecture, Theology and Religious Studies Department.