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Seattle University

All Things Jesuit

Father Ely reflects

June 9, 2015

As President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., announced in March, Peter Ely, S.J., will step down at the end of this month as vice president for Mission and Ministry.

"Peter has done a terrific job serving as vice president," Father Sundborg wrote. "Since 2009 he has led Mission and Ministry through a period of growth and positive change. Under his leadership, Seattle University has strengthened its commitment to its Jesuit Catholic character while at the same time fostering a deeper, more inclusive dialogue with other faith traditions. Most importantly, Peter has built a dedicated and talented team that plays a vital role in helping us carry out the mission."

Here, Father Ely shares his thoughts on his six years as vice president and what's next.

On stepping down as VP for Mission and Ministry:  

In many ways I'm sorry to be leaving this position. It has been a good six years serving as coordinator of a wonderful team. But I'm eager to move toward a different kind of engagement with the university's mission, not as an administrator but as a teacher. Mission and Ministry is all about nourishing the roots of our mission. That means the Jesuit and Catholic roots. It also means appealing to the deep inspiration people bring to their work at the university from a variety of traditions. This is what Fr. Steve calls "the soul of the university." Everyone working in the university, all of our governing and advising boards, our benefactors and friends and our students-all of us together are responsible for the mission. We do it in different ways. 

On what has brought him the most satisfaction in his six years as vice president:  

Surely at the top of the list is working with such a committed team ser desire that our SU community has to enter more deeply into the roots of our mission. People from the outside observing us-including accreditation bodies which can be very critical-commend us for the widespread understanding and embrace of the University's mission. Because people embrace the mission they want to understand it more deeply. That is deeply satisfying to me.

On what he will be doing next:  

I will teach half-time in the Theology and Religious Studies Department and continue to direct the Arrupe Seminar and the Interreligious Dialogue Initiative. I look forward also to increasing my time for deep reading and some scholarly research projects underway.

Other thoughts:  

It has been an honor and privilege to serve as vice president for Mission and Ministry. It is time to move on and be engaged in different ways. I move on with great confidence in Joe Orlando's ability to lead the division for this next year. Joe has been assistant vice president during my whole time as VP. He is ready to take over. I also have confidence in the people serving in Mission and Ministry. They are highly qualified professionals. They understand our mission from the inside and are committed to it.

A reception to thank Father Ely will be held 3:30-4:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 11, in Tekakwitha Collegium (Student Center, first floor).