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Answer Me This

Q: What is the plural of “woonerf?”

September 13, 2011

Woonerf coming soon to SU

Q: What is the plural of “woonerf?”  

A: Whoa, whoa, whoa...before we get to the plural of “woonerf,” maybe we should start with what exactly a “woonerf” is and what it has to do with Seattle University. “Woonerf” is a Dutch term for a place where pedestrians and cyclists rule over automobiles, although all are part of the action. A good example, says Patrick Donohue, senior project coordinator in planning and development for Seattle Parks and Recreation, is the street activity at Pike Place and Post Alley, where there’s a mix of foot and car traffic surrounding the Pike Place Market.   

So, why is this relevant to SU? Well, a “woonerf” will soon be created near the new Douglas Building. (Oh, and in case you were still interested, the plural of “woonerf” is, get this, “woonerven.”) 

Q: Who will have access to the new Fitness Center?

August 17, 2011

Fitness Center membership

Q:  Who will have access to SU's new Fitness Center?

A:  The current membership policies for the Connolly Center will apply to the Fitness Center. As a quick summary, faculty and staff will continue to enjoy free membership in the center, as will their legally domiciled adults (LDAs) and dependents.


Q: How many free cups of coffee or tea did Bon Appétit dispense to faculty and staff for last summer's Free Coffee Mondays? 

June 29, 2011

Free Coffee Monday

Q:  As we all know, one of the great perks of working at SU during the summer is Free Coffee Monday (along with Early Friday). All that faculty and staff need to do is bring their IDs to either Cherry Street or the Bottom Line to take advantage of this great offer. Which got The Commons wonderingjust how many free cups of drip coffee or tea did Bon Appétit dispense last summer? But rather than give you the answer, let's make it a guessing game. Send your answer to The Commons. The closest guess (you can go over or under) will win a Commons baseball cap. Stay tuned for the answer and the winner. And keep enjoying those free cups of coffee or tea on Mondays through Aug. 29!

A:  Congratulations, Sue Hogan, director of marketing and communications in the School of Theology and Ministry, for hazarding the closest guess. Sue surmised that 850 cups of free coffee were purveyed by Bon Appétit last summer. The actual amount? 871. How she got within 21 cups is anyone's guess. Thanks, everyone, for playing and don't forget to keep taking advantage of your Monday morning free fix of coffee or tea at Cherry Street Market for the rest of August.

Q: What is the most unique tree on our campus?

June 15, 2011

Most unique campus tree

Q:  What is the most unique tree on our campus?

A:  After speaking with SU gardener Becki Koukal-Liebe, all signs seem to point to the Franklinia alatamaha located in the Biodiversity Garden behind Loyola Hall. The tree “is unique in that it is the sole member of the Franklinia genus, an uncommon occurrence in plant taxonomy,” explains Koukal-Liebe. 

Botanists John and William Bartram encountered “The Lost American Tree,” as it has come to be known, near the Altamaha River in Georgia in 1765. The tree has not been found in the wild since 1803, and there are only 2,046 trees of its kind worldwide, according to 1999 data. The few Franklinia trees living today come from the seeds collected and planted in the Bartrams’ Philadelphia garden. 

Koukal-Liebe writes: “My tree and shrub bible, Manual of Woody Landscape Plants by Michael A. Dirr says, ‘if one is so fortunate to procure this species he/she should provide it a place of prominence in the garden; an aristocrat because of its interesting history.’”

Q: I’m a big fan of Ancient Greek literature. Are there any opportunities on campus for me to pursue this passion?

June 1, 2011

Ancient Greek reading group welcomes new members

Q:  I’m a big fan of Ancient Greek literature. Are there any opportunities on campus for me to pursue this passion? 

A:  Yes. Starting this quarter, an Ancient Greek reading group has been meeting in the library’s Faculty Lounge about twice a month. (They are currently reading Plato's Euthyphro.) The group includes, from left to right, David Boness (physics), Dave Madsen (history), Yancy Hughes Dominick (philosophy), Emiliano Trizio (philosophy) and Jeff Staley (theology and religious studies). Are you interested in joining? The group is welcoming new members. All faculty and staff are invited. Contact Yancy Hughes Dominick at for more information.

Q: Is there anything notable about the food we ate and the flowers we enjoyed at the Faculty and Staff Appreciation party?

May 17, 2011

Food and flowers at Appreciation Party

Q:  Is there anything notable about the food we ate and flowers we enjoyed at the Faculty and Staff Appreciation party? 

A:  Yes. As was true last year, Bon Appétit served a menu of low-carbon items, and the flowers you saw at the event were collected from our campus by the grounds department and arranged by volunteers. 

Q: How can I lessen my impact on the Earth?

April 18, 2011

Five ways to be more green

Q:  How can I lessen my impact on the Earth? 

A:   As we prepare to celebrate Earth Day on April 22, Karen Price, campus sustainability manager, offers these five ideas for treading more lightly on our planet. 

1. Wipe wet hands dry on your pants, skirt or run them through your hair instead of debating if paper towels or air dryers are better. The next time you dry your hands on a paper towel and throw it in the trash think about the greenhouse gases that were created in the oil used to power equipment to harvest and transport trees to a mill, mill the trees, transport the paper towels to the dispenser, then transport them to a landfill. Feel guilty? Air dryers are not the answer because of the oil used for material extraction, fabrication and transportation. I have dried my hands by running them through my hair for about nine years and don’t miss the paper towel experience. I’m even teaching my one-and-a-half year old to wipe her hands on her skirt. 

2. Just stop drinking packaged beveragesthey’re bad for your health and the environment. Do you recycle the metal, plastic or glass container your beverage came in and feel like you are doing a good thing? Stop and think about the oil that was used by equipment for material extraction, to heat and melt it to form the container; the gas to ship the container to the beverage company, the distributer, the retailer, to your home, then to the recycling plant. Just because the Food and Drug Administration considers packaged beverages a food doesn’t mean that your body’s cells will thrive on sugar, corn syrup and chemicals. Bottled juice without the fruit’s fiber from its peel, for example apple and blueberry, spikes your blood sugar which contributes to diabetes and obesity. I will never give my child bottled beverages; she loves water and smoothies.   

3. Eat a lot less meat and dairyit’ll improve your health and the planet’s. Eating meat produces more greenhouse gas emissions than driving your car was in the news several years ago after a couple scientific reports were published. For example, the Environmental Defense Fund  writes on their web site, “If every American had one meat-free meal per week, it would be the same as taking more than 5 million cars off our roads.” Are you still eating the same amount of animal products? Beans and tofu have protein AND fiber, only small amounts of fat and no cholesterol. Quinoa has the highest protein content of any grain and Bon Appétit serves it at their salad bar. Read the New York Times Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler for more background information on the impacts of livestock to our planet’s health. 

4. Before you buy something new, evaluate if you really need it—and if you do, buy used.  For example, my dentist recommended I buy a Sonicare tooth brush. I saw several new-in-the-box listed on Craigslist for half the $100-200 price.  Then I looked at my husband’s Sonicare and saw that I could remove his brush head and twist on another brush head in five seconds. So I decided to share my husband’s Sonicare instead of buying used. I saved myself $50-100. I saved the planet from the environmental stress of material extraction and transportation and the hazardous materials in the battery. The book, Your Money or Your Life, explains how you can get more happiness out of life by spending less, saving more, and thinking about earning and spending money as expending your energy for something of value. 

5. Learn about the health risks to you, your family and the environment from the consumer products you use daily. Do not expect the government to protect you—you have to become an informed consumer. The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit team of scientists, engineers, policy experts and lawyers that pores over government data, legal documents, scientific studies and their own laboratory tests to expose threats to your health and the environment. Their research brings to light unsettling facts that you have a right to know. Go to to find how the most and least toxic sunscreens, learn why you should get rid of your Teflon pans, download the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, compare the radiation in cell phones, and so much more. 

Q: What is the process for selecting Alumni Award recipients?

April 5, 2011

Choosing Alumni Awards recipients

Q:  What is the process for selecting Alumni Award recipients? 

A:  Every year in fall quarter Alumni Relations puts out an invitation, far and wide, asking alumni, faculty and staff to submit nominations in six categories. A subcommittee of the Alumni Board of Governors then votes on the nominees and sends their recommendations to the president and vice president for University Advancement, who give final approval to the awardees.

The following individuals were honored at the 26th Annual Alumni Awards celebration on April 5.

Alumna of the Year:  Betty Petri Hedreen, ’57
University Service Award:  Anita Crawford-Willis, ’82, ’86
Professional Achievement Award:  William Marler, ’87
Community Service Award:  Ezra Teshome, ’76
Distinguished Teaching, Toni Vezeau, College of Nursing
Outstanding Recent Alumnus: Ryan Schmid, ’07

Q: Can I get my taxes done for free?

March 21, 2011

Free tax prep

Q:  Can I get my taxes done for free?

A:  If your household income is $50,000 or less, the answer is yes. This year, the accounting department in the Albers School of Business and Economics is working with the United Way of King County to provide free tax help at the Yesler Community Center (917 E. Yesler Way). The service is available now through April 16*. SU accounting students are working at the site on Saturdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., and tax preparation is also available on Thursdays, 5-9 p.m. For more information, visit Free Tax Preparation

* Please note that the Internal Revenue Service has extended the deadline for filing taxes to Monday, April 18. 


Q: What is the oldest tree on campus?

March 7, 2011

Oldest tree

Q:  What is the oldest tree on campus?

A:  While its precise age is not known, The Commons has it on good authority that the Enkianthus campanulatus located on the east side of the Admin Building is SU's arboreal elder. Gardener Becki Koukal-Liebe says, “I took an informational campus walk with (SU’s longtime head of Grounds) Ciscoe Morris, and he said the tree had been moved from People’s Park by (Fujitaro) Kubota and that it was the oldest tree on campus.”

Q: What is the official name of the atrium in the Pigott Building?

February 17, 2011

Refresher on the atrium in Pigott

Q:  What is the official name of the atrium in the Pigott Building? 

A:  Many refer to this expansive space as “Pigott Atrium,” but that would be incorrect. The name that should always be used is “PACCAR Atrium.” For the record, the company for which the atrium is named should be written as “PACCAR Inc”. The PACCAR Atrium, of course, is home to the Bottom Line café, comfortable furniture and the stunning Chihuly glass sculpture, “Accendo.”


Q: What sort of assistance do SU faculty and staff have in buying a home?

February 7, 2011

Home buying help

Q:  What sort of assistance do SU faculty and staff have in buying a home? 

A:  HomeStreet offers SU employees some special home buying programs including education and discounted closing costs. For more information about this benefit program, visit Human Resources, where you'll find the information under “Compensation and Benefits/Other Privileges and Amenities” or contact HomeStreet Bank Affinity Lending Center (206) 628-0207.