Summer 2018

Message from the Dean

Welcoming Matteo Ricci Institute to the College of Arts and Sciences

Dean David PowersA few weeks ago, we wrapped up another rewarding year for our students, faculty, and staff and the celebration of the class of 2018. My congratulations to all.

As we move into a new academic year, I am pleased to welcome one of Seattle University’s signature programs to the College of Arts & Sciences.

Matteo Ricci Institute, formerly Matteo Ricci College, joined the College of Arts and Sciences on July 1.

Dr. Paulette Kidder and Dr. Dan Washburn – appointed inaugural Director and Associate Director, respectively – will lead Matteo Ricci Institute.

Dr. Kidder, who served as Interim Dean of MRC since 2016, expressed enthusiasm for taking on this role, "It's an honor to be selected as the first director of the Matteo Ricci Institute. The Matteo Ricci community is a vibrant group committed to inclusive humanities education and community engagement, and I am proud to continue to be a part of it."

Faculty, staff and students have been working on improvements to the program since the Matteo Ricci Coalition sit-ins in 2016. Their work, and that of the Matteo Ricci Task Force, informed and shaped change, while maintaining Matteo Ricci Institute’s strong foundation in the humanities and interdisciplinary scholarship.

The Matteo Ricci Institute will continue to serve students through its degrees in Humanities, Humanities for Teaching, and Humanities for Leadership.

These programs are a great fit with the humanities and broader liberal arts programs in the College of Arts and Sciences and we are happy to have the faculty, staff and students of the Matteo Ricci Institute joining our academic community.

David V. Powers, PhD

Central America Initiative

As an expression of its commitment to global engagement in the Jesuit educational tradition, Seattle University formed a successful partnership with the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in Managua, Nicaragua. This developed into Seattle University's Nicaragua Initiative, the first building block that would become the greater Central America Initiative.

Seattle U alums Anna Pickett and Andy GorvetzianTwo Seattle U alums, Andy Gorvetzian and Anna Pickett, have worked extensively in Nicaragua. The recent political crisis in the country has prohibited their return, so they brought their passion for humanitarianism and activism back to Seattle University.

In a series of articles in The Spectator, Andy and Anna provided compelling first-person accounts of the effects of violent government repression on the Nicaraguan people.

Solidarity: Seattle U Holds Space for UCA And Nicaragua

It Was a Long Time Coming Out of Nowhere: How Nicaragua Has Harnessed Resistance and Resilience

From Sandinista to Orteguista: How a Revolutionary Became a Dictator

Andy described his experiences and how Seattle University has supported efforts in a recent blog post for Campus Compact, reprinted here with permission.

This is Not a Moment to Retreat: We Must Strengthen Our Commitment to Nicaragua

I have been working at the Central American University (UCA) as Assistant to the President Father José (Chepe) Idiáquez, SJ, since November 2016. In this capacity, I have helped coordinate exchange and research projects between my alma mater Seattle University and the UCA as part of Seattle University’s Central America Initiative while also conducting research on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua. The situation in Nicaragua feels like an attack on a second home. These months have been challenging since my body is here in the USA, but my heart is in Nicaragua.

I left Nicaragua on April 13th for what was a 3-week work trip with Father Chepe. When we arrived in Seattle, it was clear that things were not looking good in Nicaragua. After a tense weekend hearing news of more protests, Father Chepe decided to return to Nicaragua just days before the government repression of those protests began on the night of April 18th outside the gates of the UCA. The UCA had irregular hours from that point until the Mother’s Day Massacre on May 30th, when snipers opened fire on thousands of peaceful marchers. Father Chepe opened the gates of the UCA to offer refuge to thousands of terrified people – turning the UCA into a field hospital. The UCA has been closed since then, and it is unclear when it will reopen. When Father Chepe’s life was threatened after the events on Mother’s Day, our work took on even more urgency, as the conflict impacted not just a partner, but also a friend.

I have not been back to Nicaragua since April 13th and I’ve had to experience all this from afar through social media, phone calls, and messages from friends on the ground. During this time, a group of us who work with the Seattle University Central America Initiative have been coordinating an advocacy and awareness campaign for the Seattle University community and within the Association of Jesuit Colleges & Universities.

Group of students, alumni and faculty supporting the people of Nicaragua

When moments of crisis emerge, it is our responsibility as universities who have committed to working with partners in other countries to ensure that we leverage our resources to create awareness of the situation. This advocacy can take on many forms for many institutions; I offer a few here.

Holding open civil space: At Seattle University, we have sought to raise awareness through various means that are replicable at other universities. We call this work the act of “holding open civil space” in order to keep the conversation going about the crisis as it unfolds. By holding this space open, it allows for collaboration, conversation, and solidarity to continue even as major media coverage ebbs and flows.

Statements of solidarity: We have worked primarily within the Jesuit network of universities in the US to produce statements of solidarity with the UCA and the people of Nicaragua to reinforce our commitment to accompany them in this tense time. In addition, Seattle U, Boston College, and others have written statements expressing concern for the situation and solidarity with the UCA and created online webforms for the community to sign. Boston College used this letter to send to government representatives to urge them to pay attention to the situation.

Teach-ins: On May 21, we organized an event at Seattle U in which we invited a Spanish professor from Nicaragua, a student who is from Nicaragua, an SU alumna and Fulbright scholar who was evacuated from Nicaragua, a law professor who has done work with the Inter-American Human Rights system, and me. These events allow for the community to learn more about the situation, show solidarity, and learn about how to advocate in their own networks. Afterwards, we held a vigil on campus to honor the victims, and created a small altar so that the wider community could see our messages. These types of events allow universities to do what we do best: educate about an issue with a critical lens using our diverse resources and highlight how global events have an impact here at home.

Write articles to share in the campus community and beyond: Finally, we wrote a series of articles for our school paper (here, here, and here) and recorded a radio show, which we hope to turn into a podcast. Using these types of resources on campus can be a good way of reinforcing why it’s important for our campuses to pay attention to these events and disseminate resources throughout the community.

This conflict could end tomorrow, but the damage—economically, emotionally, psychologically, physically—will remain for years to come. As such, it becomes part of our role to think long term about how we can contribute to the rebuilding and reconciliation process once peace comes in responsible and ethical ways. This moment is not one of retreat; rather, as responsible partners, it is a moment to strengthen our commitment to the people of Nicaragua.

This article was originally posted by as part of a series exploring the question: What is our responsibility as partners even if our students can't travel to Nicaragua? is a multi-institutional hub supporting ethical global learning and community-campus partnerships hosted in the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship at Haverford College. 

Learn more about Seattle University’s Central America Initiative.

Soccer and Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies Lead to Successful Startup

McLean Reiter, IDLS 2007 graduate and co-founder/CEO of tech company Knotis, originally transferred to Seattle U for the opportunity to play soccer. “My best friend was on the SU team and suggested I check it out,” he says. “I tried out and had a great experience.” Moving from Billings, Montana, he fell in love with Seattle and Seattle U on his first trip.

Alum McLean Reiter with tree in the backgroundInitially focused on sports, he started looking at his options for his degree. “I was originally going toward science and biology, but ran into challenges in transferring credits. To earn a biology degree would mean almost starting over.” Then he discovered Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies.

“Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies (IDLS) is interdisciplinary studies in a Jesuit educational context - integrating the liberal arts, sciences and community engagement in a way that cultivates humanity,” says Program Director, Sven Arvidson, PhD. “Students gain a broad and deep education rather than be narrowly focused. Flexibility to choose courses that match their interests provides them with solid preparation for a rewarding career or graduate school.”

McLean found IDLS to be a good fit, especially with the wide range of topics covered. Originally thinking he would still be moving toward some kind of career in sports, McLean found himself interested in entrepreneurship. “Dr. Arvidson recognized this in me and wrote my recommendation for business school.” He and his wife planned to move to Colorado and he applied to Regis University, where he was accepted. When their plans changed, he completed his MBA online.

“I remember McLean as a standout in my Senior Synthesis course,” says Dr. Arvidson. “He took on and successfully executed an ambitious project aligned with his professional interests in fitness, and taught me a thing or two about putting together a business.”

At one point, he found himself at a professional fork in the road, looking at two possible paths, retail health care and retail fitness. However, a trip to Portland, Oregon presented an entirely new idea. “When we checked into our hotel for the weekend, I found a wonderful neighborhood map that spoke to me and was really effective at communicating what the neighborhood offered,” he says.

This was Friday night and by Monday morning, he was walking around Seattle neighborhoods exploring the idea of concierge maps. However, he was already thinking far beyond the map. “While the maps did it well, I knew there was a way to take the visual and physical essence of ‘place’ online.” The maps paved the way for him to learn about how businesses operated and seven years later, he found investors and mentors interested in being part of his new endeavor, Knotis.

Screen shot from the Knotis websiteKnotis lets merchants offer rewards to customers who appreciate their products and to reach new customers who like similar products. Customers use the Knotis app to photograph what they want and share the photos with others who are nearby. Knotis lets nearby businesses know (anonymously) what users want and the business can pass rewards (discounts) on to users through the app.

“We’re making a game of this,” says McLean. “Share photos of what you want and we’ll connect you with more of what you want. The more you participate by sharing photos adding “smiles” to others’ photos, the more rewards you’ll receive for things you actually want.”

The businesses are able to seamlessly connect with more customers and pay for the service only when the customer makes a purchase.

McLean is quick to offer that privacy was the first feature they focused on when developing Knotis. “When you first download the app, your random user name is generated. All information is encrypted and stored separately, so that data is segregated. We will never sell customer information.”

Looking back, he sees a direct connection to both his sports experience and his SU Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies degree. “It really is a combination of soccer – team work, thinking ahead all of the time, strategy and flexibility – my science background – testing and analyzing – and the opportunity to explore and learn about so many different topics through interdisciplinary study.”

Indigenous Peoples Institute

Image representing Indigenous Peoples Institute, circle with red and yellow flamesOn October 6, 2018, Indigenous Peoples Institute at Seattle U and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction's Office of Native Education will host a conference focused on Washington State's Since Time Immemorial (STI) tribal-sovereignty curriculum. In addition to sessions designed for educators new to STI, the conference will also include advanced sessions for those seeking more depth. This conference will also include public keynote addresses and will conclude with an opportunity to celebrate the launch of IPI's new office space, near Seattle U's newest residence hall, Vi Hilbert Hall.

Subscribe to the Indigenous Peoples Institute email list to receive updates about the conference.

Arts and Sciences Pathways to Professional Formation

Female student talks with alums at the Connect eventWith a brand new name, the College of Arts and Sciences presents our third annual evening of connection for alumni and students on Wednesday, January 30, 2019.

Watch for more details to come, including an invitation to alumni to engage in mentoring conversations with current students about the transition to work and professional pathway options.

Mark your calendar now, January 30, 2019, 4 to 6:30 p.m., Campion Ballroom.

If you have any questions, contact Tonja Brown, Internship and Mentorship Coordinator, 206.296.6982. 

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