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Seattle University

All Things Jesuit

Educating the poorest of the poor

September 10, 2010

In August 2010 a number of SU faculty and staff met with Peter Balleis, S.J., who is leading the new Jesuit Commons program with Chris Lowney. (Some faculty and staff will recognize as author of the book Heroic Leadership.) The full name of the initiative, for the record, is Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins (JCHEM). A big part of the program’s mission is to bring Jesuit higher education to refugees in the poorest parts of the world through online courses provided by faculty at Jesuit institutions.

Right to left, Peter Balleis, S.J. of the Jesuit Commons speaks with SU's Jen Tilghman-Havens, associate director of Jesuit Mission and Identity and Sue Jackels, director of the Office of Research Services and Sponsored Projects.

While on campus, Father Balleis and other Jesuit Commons staff, including Mary McFarland (international program director), shared an update on the project. The Jesuit Commons, as attendees learned, is launching its first two higher education programs this month (September 2010) in Kenya (Kakuma Camp) and Malawi (Dzaleka Camp). Plans are also underway to serve urban refugees in Syria in the not-too-distant future.

The basic philosophy of the program, Fr. Balleis said, is “to bring the university to where the refugees are” and to create educational opportunities “that keep the mind busy” and provide hope to the students. He spoke movingly of the thirst for education in camps, relating a story of how books were thrown over the fence to refugees seeking to learn.

“As I listened to Fr. Balleis and Mary McFarland,” says Peter Ely, S.J., “I was reminded of the key Jesuit belief in the transforming power of education. The refugees in these camps believe in that power and long for the transformation.”

Visit Jesuit Commons for more information about this exciting initiative in which some SU faculty are already engaged and many more likely will be in the years ahead.

Passing the baton

August 23, 2010

Charles Currie, S.J., left, will step down as president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) on June 30, 2011, the association announced on Aug. 18. Father Currie, a venerable leader in Jesuit higher education, is the longest-tenured president in AJCU history. He will be succeeded by Greg Lucey, S.J., the former president of Spring Hill College, who also served at SU.

SU grads join JVC

August 16, 2010


The four values of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps are social justice, simple living, community and spirituality.
No fewer than 13 recent SU graduates have entered the Jesuit Volunteer Corps for 2010-2011:

Michael Alston (Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest–Portland); Renee Amador (Jesuit Volunteer Corps); Sean Baird (Jesuit Volunteer Corps East–Washington, D.C.); Kate Bourget (Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest–Bethel, Alaska); Erin Daniels (Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest–Gresham, Ore.); Meaghan Driscoll (Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest); Lindsey Dvorak (Jesuit Volunteer Corps East–New Orleans); Katrina Herzog (Jesuit Volunteer Corps); Emily Holt (Jesuit Volunteer Corps); Shea Meehan (Jesuit Volunteers International–Tanzania); Benjamin Mendoza (Jesuit Volunteer Corps); Marykate O’Connell (Jesuit Volunteer Corps–San Francisco); Braden Van Dragt (Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest–Anchorage).

These men and women join another 20+ SU grads who are committing to other similar post-graduate service organizations such as the Catholic Worker, Peace Corps, Teach for America and Americorps, to name just a few.

The Jesuit Volunteer Corps began in 1956 when a group of graduates served in Alaska under the sponsorship of the Oregon Province. Today Jesuit volunteers serve in every major city of the United States as well as some remote areas and in developing countries. They commit a year (in some cases two years) to social justice work. For more information about JVC, visit the East, Midwest, South and Southwest website or the Northwest website.

Going where the need is greatest

August 16, 2010

It's always been a defining hallmark of the Jesuits to go where the need is greatest, and that commitment is being seen again in New York City. As reported last week in The New York Times a Jesuit-run middle school is on the move. Nativity Mission Center, as the school is called, was opened in 1971 on Manhattan's Lower East Side with the express purpose of serving low-income students. Over time, the neighborhood has undergone a demographic shift, and with fewer economically disadvantaged students enrolling at Nativity, the Jesuits are looking to relocate so they can better serve the young people who need it most.  Read the article »

Lay leadership at Jesuit schools

August 2, 2010

With Thayne McCullough’s appointment as Gonzaga University’s first lay president, nine of the 28 institutions in the Association of Jesuit Colleges and University are currently led by non-Jesuit presidents, reports Melissa Collins Di Leonardo, director of communications at AJCU. Seven institutions have lay presidents: Canisius, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Le Moyne, LMU, Saint Peter's and University of Detroit Mercy. Two institutions have religious, non-Jesuit presidents: Rockhurst and Wheeling Jesuit. Five presidential searches are underway at Jesuit colleges and universities: Marquette, Creighton, Loyola Marymount, University of Detroit Mercy and Wheeling Jesuit.

The future of Jesuit education

July 15, 2010

SU President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., was significantly involved in “Shaping the Future of Higher Education in a Globalizing World,” a worldwide conference in Mexico City to which all presidents of Jesuits institutions were invited. Adolfo Nicolás, superior general of the Society of Jesus, gave the keynote address on “Depth, Universality and Learned Ministry: Challenges to Jesuit Higher Education Today.” Click on the video shown here to learn more.

Jesuits weigh in on immigration

June 11, 2010

The leaders of every Province of the Society of Jesus in the United States recently took the rare step of hand delivering a joint letter to the White House and each individual Congressional office to express concern over the immigration law recently enacted in Arizona, and to urge immediate and comprehensive immigration law.

“With the new Arizona law, there is a real risk that life on our national borders will become subject to a patchwork of state responses; Congress is faced with both a constitutional and moral imperative to act,” said Jesuit Father Thomas Smolich, president of the Jesuit Conference of the United States. “Despite what some reactionary politicians would have us believe,” Smolich added, “we can secure our borders in a way that does not cost us our humanity.”

Referencing the Justice for Immigrants Campaign sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Smolich said “the Catholic Church has been a leading advocate of immigration reform. We wanted to send a clear message to the president and Congress as well as invite all Jesuits and our many lay partners to join us in support of the Church, speak out for the least among us and ask your members of Congress to act now.”

Join the Arrupe Seminar

May 4, 2010

The Arrupe Seminar on the Foundations and Vision of Jesuit Education - a great opportunity within a lively, interesting discussion with peers that will deepen your understanding of the Jesuit foundations of Seattle University.

It’s not too late to join the next "Arrupe Seminar" which will commence in Fall Quarter 2010. The seminar has been offered every fall since 2004. If you are interested in joining the seminar this fall please contact Margaret Moore at

The Seminar is designed to promote:

  • Understanding of the Jesuit educational tradition and of Jesuits
  • Assimilation of the knowledge and values of the tradition
  • Application of what one learns and assimilates to the carrying out of one’s role at the University
  • Commitment to carrying on the tradition. It offers an experience that is both scholarly and personal, requiring a significant amount of reading, discussion, and personal reflection, and including presentations by people knowledgeable in the Jesuit tradition.

Seminar basics:

  • A team made up of one Jesuit and one lay colleague leads each section, presents material, and facilitates discussions.
  • Visiting experts present some sessions.
  • The Seminar is open to faculty, staff, and administrators who have completed at least one year at the University.
  • It meets approximately every two weeks for two hours throughout the academic year, beginning in October and ending in early May.
  • Two sections at different times are offered to accommodate different schedules.

President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., has stated in a letter to all SU faculty and staff: "I urge you to give careful consideration to participating in the Seminar. If it does not fit your schedule during this coming year 2010/11, you might want to consider it another year. Interest in the Seminar is such that it has become a regular offering on the part of the Jesuits and the University."