Fall Reopening Message to Incoming Students and Families

May 14, 2020

Dear Students and Families,

I hope this finds you healthy and well. Whether you have already made the commitment to join us in the fall or you are still deciding, we are excited to welcome you to the Seattle University community.

As we all continue to navigate the COVID-19 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 initial part of the 2020-2021 academic year at Seattle University.

While I know the current climate presents a certain level of uncertainty, we are moving forward with the full intention of reopening campus in the fall and I want you to know we are hard at work planning so that the beginning of your Seattle University experience is excellent in every way. Our goal is to begin the quarter with as much in-person instruction as is safely possible, with some virtual classes as part of the mix.

We know that social distancing and enhanced safety measures, including testing, tracing and isolation will need to be in place for an extended period of time. We also know there will be a need to maintain flexibility for changing circumstances and be prepared for all possible scenarios.

As we plan for fall quarter, 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 make expected 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 COVID-19 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. We know that it is particularly critical for first-year students to develop connections with one another in classes, through involvement in student organizations and activities and across community-engaged learning opportunities. We are committed to providing an experience that will set the best foundation for you to thrive during the entirety of your time with us.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has tested us in ways few could have imagined, I continue to be uplifted by the care and compassion of our faculty, staff and students. The strength and resilience of our Seattle University community has never been more apparent to me than in these past several weeks and our mission to educate students as whole people and leaders for a more just and humane world is all the more critical in these times. We look forward to welcoming you into a community that truly cares for and supports one another.

We will continue to share updates on our plan for reopening in the fall. In the meantime, please know that you have my best wishes and prayers.


Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J.