Skip to main content
Seattle University


Father Steve on Leadership

President shares four lessons he's learned in 20 years at SU's helm

September 8, 2017

In an insightful, highly personal speech, President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., recently shared his perspectives on leadership. Asked to address the Rotary #4 Club in downtown Seattle on Sept. 6, Father Sundborg shared four lessons he’s learned in his 20 years as president of Seattle University. 

Calling leadership “a very personal, even very intimate kind of feeling,” the president began the talk by sharing the trepidation he felt at being named SU’s leader in 1997. 

“I was not sure I wanted to be president,” he said. “It seemed too big and I felt too small. When I was informed by phone that the board had elected me, I was told: ‘The board wants you to know that it believes you lack three things: any academic administration experience, do not have knowledge of finances, and have never done significant fundraising, nevertheless it believes you will be a great president.’ They believed in who I was, the kind of Jesuit I was, my love of students, and a personal quality of leadership—and that I could learn those other things—but that I had the essential things.” 

He then touched on four lessons he’s learned on what it takes to succeed as a leader. This is a speech you’re going to want to read in its entirety, so here’s the link. Be sure to check it out!