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What's Goin' On

Written by Mike Thee
May 7, 2012

In the span of an hour President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., provided a snapshot of the university's position as well as a few things to watch for in the days, months and years ahead when he held his latest Noon Forum on May 3.

He began by acknowledging the year's extraordinary moments so far, including Chemistry Professor Vicky Minderhout being named the Washington State Professor of the Year and the university receiving the President's Award, the highest recognition an institution can earn for service and community service.

Father Sundborg said the enrollment projections for next year are "looking just right." He acknowledged the 135 SU students inducted into Alpha Sigma Nu last month and said SU is "probably now the leading Jesuit university in the country in terms of the number of students who are now wanting to be part of the Jesuit honor society."

He spoke about the Major Institutional Master Plan (MIMP) for Seattle University, calling it "the framework within a major institution like ours is able to develop over the next period of 15 to 20 years." He said the plan, which has been endorsed by the City's Department of Development and the Citizens Advisory Committee as well as other citizens groups, now goes to the city's hearing examiner and eventually the City Council. Sundborg expected the process to come to a conclusion in the fall.

At the president's invitation, Jerry Huffman, vice president for Human Resources and University Services, spoke about the university's new system for staff pay, which will go into effect in fiscal year 2013. Huffman encouraged people to attend one of the upcoming open forum sessions to learn more about what "the (pay) system is going to look like going forward," and said the new system "will be much more efficient at keeping (the university) on the market rates."

The president also shared that the university is looking to bring more coherence to "the main lines of strategic planning at the university so we know how the whole university is moving forward in a strategic way and we know where our investments are going." The plan, grounded in the university's five strategic priorities, will provide a foundation for the next capital campaign, which Sundborg said, is expected to begin during summer 2013.

Sundborg talked of two longer-term thoughts on his mind these days: ensuring a "culture of colleagueship" among faculty and staff and "enhancing the great student experience at Seattle University."

The president acknowledged Jim Adolphson for serving as interim vice president for finance and business affairs, as well as the faculty who oversaw this year's rank and tenure process and the group taking the lead in choosing a new learning management system to succeed ANGEL. He also recognized the President's Committee for Sustainability, the faculty and staff involved in various accreditation processes, the completed Undergraduate Strategic Enrollment Plan, a price and value study now underway, the graduate learning outcomes plan that goes to the board this week and the ongoing brand project.

The president said a group of students have asked for a conversation with him and other university leaders about LGTBQ issues. He also expressed an interest in finding a way for Seattle University to be supportive of the women religious of the U.S. "The first teachers at Seattle University were not Jesuits but were sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary," he said. "They ran the very first (few) years of Seattle College and all the way through our history they've been very important. We would not have the College of Nursing and the College of Education that we have today were it not for the leadership of the women religious and sisters. (They) are a very, very important part not only of our history but of our present reality."