Summer 2012

Alumni Newsletter - Summer 2012

Message from the Dean

Dear Alumni and Friends,  



This has been a terrific year for the College of Arts and Sciences. Our faculty and students swept the Spirit of Community Awards for their outstanding service. Two of our graduating Master of Public Administration students head to Washington, D.C., as Presidential Management Fellows. Philosophy Professor Burt Hopkins’ new book, The Origin of the Logic of Symbolic Mathematics: Edmund Husserl and Jacob Klein, was a best seller in mathematics. Honors student Logan McDonald received a Boren scholarship for a year of study at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Allason Leitz sets off this summer to volunteer with Yole!Africa, an arts and cultural center located in one of the most violent and devastated areas in Africa.  And the list goes on and on.

Before we say good-bye to the academic year, we celebrate in this issue the 50th anniversary of the Honors Program. We acknowledge our very newest alumni and some from years past. We also profile junior Gabrielle Porter, one of the first recipients of a Dean’s Research Fellowship.

We begin this summer with a full plate as we plan arts events, lectures, the alumni seminar series, and our annual Night at Key Arena for men’s basketball.  Remember, you can get the most current listing of events and all things Arts and Sciences by joining our Facebook page.

I look forward to seeing you soon!
David V. Powers


Honors Program Celebrates 50 Years 

In 1959, the Honors Program began as an option to the traditional core curriculum. Created with a small cohort model and using a team-teaching approach, the Honors Program has rigorous entrance requirements. In addition to a base requirement of a high school 3.6 grade point average and a 650 SAT verbal score, prospective students must write two brief essays.  Each year the Honors Program admits an entering class of 25 students.

The Honors Program curriculum is based in the humanities and social sciences. Each quarter, students take three seminars that follow an historical path, from the dawn of civilization in the first quarter to contemporary times in the sixth and final quarter in the second year. In addition to their regular class assignments, they take a final oral exam graded by their three professors.

Philosophy Professor James Risser has been teaching in the Honors Program for more than 25 years and served as director for the last six.

“Our honors students love learning,” he said. “They are not afraid of hard work and thrive in the active learning environment.”

Honors Program faculty work closely to provide an integrated experience for students. Before the first day of class, they compare syllabi and determine common areas where they can enhance the learning environment. The students carry a heavy workload, and the faculty coordinate class assignments to avoid scheduling exams and papers on the same days.

The cohort model and seminar setting serve the students well. The classroom experience emphasizes critical thinking, writing, and peer review. The students examine different viewpoints and test their opinions. They interact in an environment of mutual respect, work collaboratively, and develop lifelong friendships along the way.

“The students enjoy academic pursuit and have multiple interests they want to explore. They learn from each other in ways we can’t anticipate,” Risser added.

Each student prepares a self-evaluation at the end of the quarter, and each professor does a qualitative assessment of every student.

For Risser, the Honors Program has been a challenging and exhilarating experience:

“Our students develop active listening skills in an open, thought-provoking environment. In the seminars, they not only learn to value criticism and evaluation, they also gain insight into themselves and the world around them. They are highly motivated and focused on what they want out of their education.”

Students in the Honors Program have received national attention by earning scholarships from outside organizations, receiving Fulbright awards, and becoming Truman Scholars.

Professor Sean McDowell will direct the Honors Program beginning in September. Risser will continue to teach in the program.

Recent Alumni Profile: Casey Plank, ‘05

It was only after a good friend introduced her to organic food that Casey Plank began to pay attention to food production. She switched her major from journalism to environmental studies, stayed for a fifth year to complete her new major, and interned in King County’s Wastewater Treatment Division. From that internship, Plank was hired part-time to conduct tours of facilities and educational programs about recycling and sustainability. Now a full-time member of the community relations team, Plank was instrumental in enlisting the College of Arts and Sciences to help set up a small demonstration food garden on the site of the wastewater treatment plant in Renton.

King County’s South Treatment Plan sits on 94 acres in Renton, WA. The plant can handle up to 325 million gallons of waste in a day and produces 100 million gallons of clean water and 60,000 wet tons of biosolids each year. Plank created a demonstration garden to showcase how individuals can use treated water and recycled biosolids (compost) in their gardens.

“People think of wastewater only as sewage,” Plank said from her office in downtown Seattle. “The demonstration garden showed the community what urban sustainable agriculture is about.”

Plank hoped to use a two-acre parcel on the site to expand the demonstration project. The property was once a staging area, had poor soil, and was littered with weeds and debris.

Plank worked with her colleagues in the Wastewater Division to obtain the necessary permitting. She enlisted the support of Michael Boyle, her Environmental Studies professor, and his students. The Urban Farm was born.

The project began in January 2011. Students worked with more than 200 volunteers from local agencies, including the Pacific Science Center, Youth Source, and King County Housing Authority, to prepare the soil and plant vegetables. By year’s end, almost 7,000 pounds of fresh produce, including onions, garlic, spinach, kale, chard, beans, peas, potatoes, beets, and carrots, were delivered to area food banks

This year, thanks to a grant from Wells Fargo, the site is blossoming with 40 fruit trees, blueberries, kiwi, and vegetables.

Although never thinking she’d end up “working in wastewater,” Plank is excited about showing children and adults the benefits of sustainable agriculture and recycling. She credits Seattle University for helping her put together a project of this size and complexity.

“We took a lot of field trips, and I was exposed to how the world works, she said. “SU definitely prepared me to think in terms of systems, and my ability to get people behind a project like this came from that perspective.”

Alumni Profile: Stephanie Moyes, ’91 Psychology, ’97 MPA


Stephanie Moyes took the first step towards her career by studying victims of domestic violence for her psychology class. She interned with the Office of King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng were she prepared protection orders for victims of domestic violence and linked victims with services. Hired on full-time after graduation, Moyes moved up the ladder from victim advocate to project manager. She earned her Master’s in Public Administration along the way.

As an advocate, Moyes went to court with victims, sometimes as many as 30 in one day. Somehow she found time to volunteer at the Crisis Clinic and Eastside Domestic Violence Service, two social service agencies in the Puget Sound area working with domestic violence victims and their families.

“I knew that I needed to go back to school to shape policy,” she said. “With a graduate degree, I would be able to move into program management and go beyond direct service.”

Moyes left the justice system and began managing funding for domestic violence and sexual assault services at King County’s Department of Community and Human Services. As project manager in the Women’s Program, she distributed $1.5 million annually to community agencies providing counseling, transitional housing, and support services for survivors of violence and their children.

“We did much more than confidential shelter, “she said. “Many women were isolated. Some needed a transitional place to stay, others job training. We funded programs offering those types of services.”

In addition, Moyes was a staff liaison to the King County’s Women’s Advisory Board, where members are appointed by their County Councilmembers. The board focuses on projects to ensure the needs, rights and well-being of women are taken into account by county government. Recent projects included reviewing jail health conditions for pregnant and mentally ill women; organizing a forum on unemployment and women, and coordinating a community-based job readiness and financial literacy workshop. Moyes credits members of the advisory board, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and the County Council for maintaining funding for these services during the current economic downtown.

Today, Moyes has taken on a new challenge. As project manager for Youth and Family Services of the Community Services Division, she oversees a $2 million program for youth at risk of dropping out of middle or high school, becoming involved in gangs, or getting arrested. Caseworkers are placed in schools to engage directly with youth on such issues as school performance, substance abuse, anti-social behavior, family relationships, and/ or gang involvement. This collaborative effort involves the juvenile justice system, nonprofit agencies, and 19 school districts with dozens of schools.

“Prevention is just as important as intervention,” she emphasized. “Knowing there’s support to maintain these types of programs keeps me going.”

Student Profile: Gabrielle Porter, Summer Research Fellow

When History Professor Tom Taylor learned that he was in the first group of fellows supported by the Dean’s Research Fellowship program, he called on Gabrielle Porter for assistance. Porter has a double major in environmental studies and international studies. As a student research fellow during the summer of 2011, she examined reams of documents and news articles about the societal changes brought about by the adoption of bicycling as a new mode of transportation.

“There is a great online repository of sports articles that was created for the 1984 L.A. Olympics. That was the starting point,” she said.

Outing Magazine featured the adventures of men who had the time and resources to engage in sport.  Porter focused on bicycle enthusiast Thomas Stevens who traveled mainly by bicycle and sometimes by boat on a worldwide tour. He only knew English; yet he managed to complete the trip, writing in a diary along the way. Based on his diary and the Outing Magazine articles, Porter soon gained an appreciation not only for Stevens’ bicycling adventure but for the relationships he cultivated.

“What started out as an adventure for Stevens provided a first-person narrative on cross-cultural interactions,” Porter said.

Through this research project, Porter gained insight into the requirements for academic research. She learned to go deep into the stories generated during a specific time frame and be flexible in taking different approaches to the material.

“Professor Taylor motivated me, and I learned as much about being well organized as about learning the material,” she said. “It was an opportunity to understand really what academic research is all about.”

Porter spent the fall and winter quarters of 2011 in a part of northern Tanzania largely populated by Massai.  The Tanzanian government is increasingly encouraging private companies, many foreign, to develop the area for tourism. Porter worked with two other students on a survey of the ecological and social issues related to private management of land for tourist activities.

“The Massai are pastoral and nomadic. If water sources are diverted for tourism, it could have catastrophic impacts on the Massai,” Porter said. 

Porter found that the woodlands of Enishiva Nature Refuge are, in fact, encroaching onto the grasslands. Her research will be used to plan future management of the area, including whether or not to do controlled burns.

Porter returned to campus for the spring 2012 quarter and assisted Professor Taylor to prepare their research for publication.

Student Profile: Sophomore Allason Leitz

This summer, sophomore Allason Leitz returns to Yole!Africa, an arts and cultural center where she volunteered last summer. She’ll be helping to organize a 10-day film festival in Goma, Democratic Republic of Africa, one of the most violent and devastated areas in Africa.

Since 1996, Rwandan and Ugandan incursions and two civil wars have left more than 6 million people dead in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Formerly Zaire and now known as DR Congo, the area is still plagued by violence. Goma, which sits on the border with Rwanda, has been particularly hard hit. Refugees from the Rwanda genocide poured into the area in the mid-1990s. Ongoing violence between Hutu and Tutsi factions followed, leading to the two civil wars. Main roads were destroyed and remain unrepaired. Despite a truce in 2003, outbreaks of violence are still commonplace.

Leitz met Congolese filmmaker Petna Ndaliko Katondolo through his wife Cherie Rivers-Ndaliko. Rivers-Ndaliko holds a Ph.D. from Harvard and focuses her scholarship on arts interventions in the DR Congo. Katondolo is an internationally renowned Congolese filmmaker and activist. Leitz, before transferring to the College of Arts and Sciences this winter, spent a year at Lake Forest College where she organized a screening of Katondolo’s film “Jazz Mama” and met the filmmaker. Last fall of 2011, she traveled to Goma.

In 2000, Katondolo founded Yole!Africa’s Goma center, which offers arts training, facilities, and workshops each year to 24,000 youth in eastern DR Congo. Last October, the organization produced its sixth annual Salaam Kivu International Film Festival (SKIFF). Leitz worked to obtain screening rights, assisted the directors, and organized various events for the festival.

All films are shown in a tent called “Lumumba Hall” (the city has no movie theater). Last year, the festival exhibited 30 films, including films from the United States, South America, the Middle East, and Europe. In addition to film screenings, SKIFF sponsors an opening night gala, and a dance competition, and an open air concert. More than 15,000 people attended in 2011.

“Yole!Africa operates as a platform for exchange and a place for youth to come together and connect regardless of race, gender or social status.” Leitz said. “Being the first cultural center in a community that has been through so much conflict, it is looking to the future and encouraging an alternative to violence.”

Now firmly settled at SU, Leitz is majoring in Liberal Studies with a minor in Global African Studies. She will return to Goma in June to volunteer for the seventh annual Salaam Kivu International Film Festival, July 6-15. Next year, she hopes to bring African films and speakers to campus to encourage changing the worn out dialogue on Africa.

Meet the Class of 2012

On July 10, we welcomed undergraduates and graduates into the ranks of Arts and Sciences alumni. We highlight here just a few of our graduates.

  Stephanie Faddis, Liberal Studies major from Mercer Island, WA, is heading to Columbia University Teacher’s College to earn an advanced degree in Special Education and Literacy in Urban Schools.
  Yuyeun Kim, International Studies major from Korea, plans to continue her education in agriculture and sustainable farming.
  Paloma Newcombe, Public Affairs major from Seaside, Oregon, is working on a Washington State House of Representatives campaign.
  Faisal Othaimin, Political Science major from Saudi Arabia, plans to go to graduate school in public administration.
  Matthew Sawyer Purman, Photography major from Milwaukee, WI, will begin work as a cinematographer, producer, and director at Altrac Productions in Seattle.
  Stephen Yim, MPA, heads to Washington, DC, to work as a Presidential Management Fellow in the Department of Labor.

Advancement Update: Strong Support for Students Marks Year End

From David Chow, Director of Development:

Innovative programs that bolster the learning experiences of our students received strong support from alumni and donors this year.  The Dean’s Research Fellowship, instituted just a year ago, has already received more than $100,000 in endowed gifts. These fellowships, a priority for Dean Powers, recognize the transformative value of students working directly with faculty on research. Gabrielle Porter, featured in this e-letter, was one of the first recipients of this fellowship.

Thanks to the generosity of Dick and Betty Hedreen, we received a transformative gift for the Hedreen Gallery. That sustainable gift will enhance the artistic dialogue among students, faculty, and the broader community years for to come.

More undergraduate students will receive scholarships thanks to the creation of the Thomas L. O’Brien, S.J. and C. Robert Harmon University Honors Scholarship, spearheaded by the University Honors Program Planning Committee, and major contributions to the Nellie Clark Scholarship for incoming freshman from single parent families. The Jan Rowe Scholarship for graduate students in psychology also received significant support this year.

Together, we raised more than $700,000, a 48% increase from last year. Special thanks to the Arts and Sciences Leadership Council, faculty and staff, and all our alumni and friends who have made this our most successful year ever.