Dear Alumni and Friends,
The College of Arts and Sciences is known for a diverse student body, and we encourage our students to follow their passions. In this issue of our e-letter, you will read about an alumnus who exhibited his art at the Olympic Games in London, another working with mentally ill adults, and a student helping with children suffering from trauma.
You will also find an eclectic range of upcoming activities that I hope you can attend. Here are a few to add to your calendar:
The next Catholic Heritage Lecture features Dr. Peter C. Phan on “What Will the Church Look Like in 2050: A Prognostication from Asia” on April 18. Dr. Phan is recognized as one of the most important North American Catholic theological voices of our times. This lecture is sponsored by the newly formed Institute of Catholic Thought and Culture, under the direction of Theology and Religious Studies Professor Catherine Punsalan-Manlimos, profiled here.
Registration is now on for the spring Alumni Seminar Series. Our distinguished faculty revisit classics of literature from the Medieval Ages to Tom Stoppard’s “Acadia,” with Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe, Leslie Silko, and Josef Conrad in between.
Joining us this quarter is LeRoux Scholar Thomas Worcester, SJ, who will present “From Warrior Pope to Pope of the People: The Changing Papacy, 1513 to 2013” on May 7. For your listening enjoyment, plan to attend our Brahms Music Series, Songs of Celebration Spring Concert, and Miró String Quartet concert. I also encourage you to come to the Lee Center for the award-winning play “Fefu and Her Friends,” by Cuban American playwright Marie Irenes Fornes. Be prepared though, the audience moves from room to room.
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I look forward to seeing you soon!
David V. Powers
Theology and Religious Studies Professor Catherine Punsalan-Manlimos has been named director of the new Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture at Seattle University. The institute is designed to encourage the study, development, and understanding of the Catholic intellectual tradition, both within the university and for the broader scholarly and religious communities of the Pacific Northwest. Punsalan-Manlimos will continue to teach in the College of Arts and Sciences where she directs the Catholic Studies program.
Punsalan-Manlimos started her college years majoring in physics and computer science at Ateneo de Manila, a Jesuit College in the Philippines. During those years, she gravitated towards theology and philosophy, challenging herself with “the big God questions.” When her liberation theology professor offered her a scholarship to do a master’s in theology and teach at the college, she jumped at the chance.
“I used my background in science to examine questions about the relevance of religion,” she said from her office in the Casey Building. “The chair of the physics department, a Jesuit, was my thesis advisor.”
After teaching for a few years, leading Ignatian retreats, and advising student organizations, she took some time to explore her next steps. She soon realized that teaching was where she needed to be. She earned her doctorate in Systematic Theology from the University of Notre Dame and began teaching in the College of Arts and Sciences in 2004.
As the founding director of the Institute for Catholic Thought, Punsalan-Manlimos will build on her experiences facilitating the Aruppe seminar and the Faculty Summer Justice Seminar and developing the university’s Catholic Heritage Lectures. She also co-founded the Women in Jesuit Mission.
“I want us to engage in a dialogue about real questions we have as a community and bring together scholars to think about what it means to be a Catholic university, what our responsibilities are, and how we address the tension between the Church and the academic environment,” she said.
Punsalan-Manlimos is confident that engaging in the hard questions will be rewarding though difficult.
“We can do our best with integrity to pursue knowledge and understanding,” she said. “It may be a rough ride, but a good ride.”
The next Catholic Heritage Lecture features Dr. Peter C. Phan on “What Will the Church Look Like in 2050: A Prognostication from Asia.” Dr. Phan is Recognized as one of the most important North American Catholic theological voices of our times. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, takes place on April 18 at 7 p.m. in Pigott Auditorium.
“I love art. I live art,” said Paul Mullally, class of 1971, from his studio in Seattle.
With backpack, paint, canvas, and his art degree in hand, Mullally travelled throughout the world after college. He cultivated his art outside the classroom, painting portraits, street scenes, and landscapes. He made friends everywhere along the way. Last summer, his “Alaska Bound – Triumph of the Spirit” was shown at a special fine arts exhibition at the Olympics in London. Today, it is part of a permanent collection of art from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics soon to be installed in a new museum in Beijing. It didn’t come easy.
Mullally enrolled in Seattle University three times. In between, he attended flight school in Florida and joined an Army reserve unit. Inspired by Fine Arts Professors Marvin Herard, Val Laigo, and Nick Damascus, he majored in art, and within two years of graduation he was off to Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, painting people and places at every stop.
“I soon realized that I needed to improve my technical skills,” he said about deciding to enroll in New York’s Art Students League. “Painting 6 days a week for 6 hours a day changed my life, and I learned to paint the way I wanted to.”
Mullally has never stopped painting, travelling, and making friends. By 2012, he had become internationally recognized for his representational art. Although he has received numerous awards and commissions, including one for a portrait by the Senior Queen of Bhutan, being invited to participate in the London Olympics art exhibit was an incomparable honor.
In 2008, the Cultural Ministry of China hosted an international arts event for the Beijing summer games. Seeking to build on that event, the ministry planned an exhibit at the 2012 Olympics. A suggestion from his friend, Chinese artist Huihan Liu, led Mullally to submit his art for consideration for the London exhibition. When the Cultural Ministry invited him to participate, Mullally chose “Alaska Bound – Triumph of Spirit.” The painting depicts the fishing fleet at Fishermen’s Terminal on Seattle’s waterfront.
"To me, fishing in the Arctic expresses what it means to have unity of spirit in pursuit of a common goal," he said, “and that is what the Olympics are about.”
The International Olympic Arts Event at the Museum of London opened in August 2012. The exhibition was staged in five galleries, the largest exhibit Mullally had ever participated in. Organizers had brought together 150 artists from throughout the world; Mullally was one of only five American artists represented.
Mullally paints almost every day in his studio which is filled with mementos from his travels, his artwork, photographs, and the most recent addition, his Olympic medal.
Kimberly Rixon couldn't have asked for a better job when she graduated last June with a degree in Social Work. She joined the team at the new Crisis Solutions Center run by the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC), the largest multi-service agency serving homeless adults in the Puget Sound area. The agency is nationally recognized as a leader in services for chronically homeless adults with behavioral health disorders.
The Crisis Solutions Center provides short-term residential treatment for up to 40 people at a time. Admittance, which is voluntary, is only by referrals from an emergency room or first responder.
"We provide a safe, therapeutic alternative to jail and hospitalization for people in a crisis due to mental illness," she said recently.
Before coming to Seattle University as a transfer student from Bellevue Community College, Rixon spent a year volunteering in inner city Atlanta at a food bank and an after-school program. Her kindergarten students came mainly from immigrant families, and she became a liaison between the families and the schools and other community resources. She continued working with immigrant families when she returned to Washington and did her senior Social Work practicum at Compass Housing Alliance.
"Working with adults in downtown Seattle as part of my Compass internship got me interested in mental health," she said. "I saw the importance of housing in creating stability in the rest of a person’s life."
She soon met Bill Hobson, DESC's executive director, through a class at SU and learned more about the value of integrating housing, mental health, and substance abuse treatment for people who are homeless.
For many, the Crisis Solutions Center is a critical stop in breaking the revolving door of homelessness and hospitalization. A voluntary program that maintains a full-time staff of psychiatrists, nurses, social workers, and case managers, the center is designed to connect people with the supports they need to avoid the next crisis. Some return to their homes within 72 hours; others stay at the center for up to two weeks.
"I see a lot of people who have never received mental health treatment," Rixon said. "Most have had some interaction with a health care provider, but not a consistent relationship. Those with chronic mental illnesses need a long-term solution that includes housing with comprehensive support services. DESC is providing that solution."
Whether speaking before 1,000 business people or working one-on-one with a pre-teen, Perla Castaneda is passionate about education and making a difference.
Castaneda graduates in June with a dual major in social work and psychology. She was chosen to emcee and speak at the annual Costco breakfast, an event that raises scholarship funds for underrepresented students at Seattle University and the University of Washington.
Seattle University was Castaneda’s first choice for college, and her Costco scholarship enabled her to attend.
“I have had the incomparable opportunity to study at an academically challenging Catholic Jesuit university,” she said. “It means a lot because my faith community is a strong source of support for me.”
During her first year as a biology major, Castaneda explored a range of courses and soon changed her major to social work, realizing she wanted to work in direct service with people. In her junior year, she went on a service trip to Belize where she spent time with that country's poorest. She saw a level of poverty that books couldn’t begin to describe.
“The families were so warm and generous,” she said. “Even though they had so little, they wanted to share a meal with us when we delivered food. It was an eye-opening experience.”
Now a senior with a second major in psychology, Castaneda is spending her practicum at Ryther Child Center, a behavioral and mental health services agency for children and their families. The agency offers residential and outpatient treatment. Castaneda works mainly with children ages 10 – 14.
“The yearlong practicum has been intense because the children have been through so much trauma,” Castaneda said. “I put my social work skills and background in psychology to use every day. I’ve learned from my practicum that this is the work I'm meant to do and the population I want to work with.”
Castaneda plans to go to graduate school in social work and continue her work in the mental health field with adolescents.