Fall Reopening Message to Continuing Students and Families

May 14, 2020

Dear Students and Families,

I hope this finds you healthy and well. As we all continue to navigate the coronavirus pandemic and look forward to the fall, I wanted to write to give you a sense of how we are approaching our preparations for the start of the 2020-2021 academic year at Seattle University.

While COVID-19 has tested us in ways few could have imagined, I continue to be uplifted by the care and compassion of our students, faculty and staff as together we move through these challenging times. The strength, resilience and creativity of our Seattle University community has never been more apparent to me than in these past several weeks and I am especially grateful to you, our students, for adapting so well to our present virtual learning environment. I know this has not been easy and I thank you for managing all the necessary transitions as well as could be asked of anyone.

As recently announced, we are planning to reopen and welcome you back to campus in the fall. Our goal is to begin the fall term with as much in-person instruction as is safely possible, with some virtual classes as part of the mix. The beginning of the academic year will not look like it has in the traditional sense. Social distancing and enhanced safety measures, including testing, tracing and isolation, will need to be in place for an extended period of time. We will need to maintain flexibility for changing circumstances and be prepared for all possible scenarios. The work is already well underway and I am very pleased with the progress we are making to address the range of issues and considerations involved.

As we prepare for the fall, caring for our students will be a guiding principle of every decision we make and the health, safety and well-being of all members of our community—students, faculty and staff—will remain paramount. We will pay particular attention to the needs of our most at-risk and more vulnerable community members and families. For faculty and staff to best serve you, we must do our best to help keep them safe and well. In all circumstances, we will continue to follow state directives and act according to the guidelines and best practices set by public health officials.

In the coming weeks, we will provide more specifics on the measures we are taking in areas such as testing, enhanced disinfecting protocols and the de-densification of campus to help keep all members of our campus community healthy and safe.

Our academic planning will prioritize your ability to continue progress toward your degree, being flexible in our approach and ensuring you continue to receive a high-quality, personalized and experiential education. Careful consideration is being given to the academic calendar, including the possibility of adjusting start and end dates. We will adapt in new ways to provide essential student services from advising, tutoring and career engagement to mental health support, disability services and student employment. Regardless of the mode of delivery, care and excellence will remain hallmarks of our Jesuit education, the way our faculty teach and your student experience.

While the Seattle area was one of the first in the United States to be hit with a surge in cases, our state has responded particularly well in confronting the crisis and slowing the spread of the virus. This is in no small part because of Seattle’s state-of-the-art health care infrastructure, the region’s heroic frontline workers who are some of the very best and public health officials whose decisions are guided by the science and data. We will continue to take our cue from these public health professionals.

Yet our care for you, as students, does not end there. In addition to prioritizing your health and safety, our Jesuit ethos focuses on caring for the whole person—from your intellectual advancement and humanistic development to your overall personal well-being. Our faculty and staff strive to uphold this core value every day in all that we do to deliver an inclusive and transformative experience for all students, whether in person or virtually.

Our mission to educate you in all dimensions of who you are as people and prepare you as leaders in your professions and communities is all the more critical in these trying times. I know this to be true as I look around and see so many of our alumni making a difference in the lives of those who are affected by the pandemic or struggling in other ways. In you, our current students, I see that same potential, that same sense of purpose and that same predisposition to place your Seattle University education and all who you are at the service of others. I look forward to your continued emergence as leaders in your chosen fields and for a just and humane world.

Thank you for taking this journey with us, unexpected as it has been at times. I truly believe we are becoming an even stronger Seattle University community. We will continue to share updates on our plan for reopening in the fall. In the meantime, you and your loved ones have my best wishes and prayers.


Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J.