Welcome to the 2020-2021 Academic Year

September 9, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

Welcome to the 2020-2021 academic year at Seattle University! While I would much prefer greeting and seeing you all in person, I am no less energized by what we will learn and accomplish together in the months ahead.

To our newest Redhawks, thank you for joining us. We are a special academic community and your presence makes us that much richer. To those who are returning, thank you for continuing to take this journey with us and for making Seattle U all that it is. I want to thank our faculty and staff for all your hard work over what was an abbreviated summer to prepare for this most unusual of academic years. I am deeply grateful to you all.

During this time, let us also keep in mind and prayer and do what we can to support students, their families and all who may be impacted by wildfires.

We begin 2020-2021 within the context of two pandemics. The brutal and disgraceful killings, woundings and injustices perpetrated on our Black brothers and sisters presents a moral challenge we must confront. The time for words is long over—action is the only way forward and the only acceptable path for those committed, as we are, to social justice. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt all facets of our lives as individuals and members of a campus community, reshaping how we teach, how we learn, how we form community and how we live out our mission. As if these tectonic forces were not enough, our nation will undergo over the next several weeks a presidential election that has every indication of being divisive if not downright dispiriting at times.

Yet I am confident we will rise to the challenges now before us and I say this because Jesuit education—and Seattle University—is made for this moment.

The 2020-2021 academic year will be a transformative one at Seattle U. We will redouble our efforts to address the unfinished business of ending white supremacy by embedding more deeply into our actions, our systems, our structures an unequivocal commitment to be an actively anti-racist institution. This coming year, we will bring our Center for Science and Innovation over the finish line, ushering in a new chapter for STEM education at Seattle U and creating an incredible new space for all members of our community. In the coming weeks—with significant input from the campus community—our Board of Trustees will name the next president of Seattle University to whom I will pass the baton at the end of the academic year in June.

In these extraordinary times, I encourage us all to find ways to fully and creatively live into our current reality. Let’s all consider what it is to which we are being invited—particularly how are we are called to support each other and those most in need. That starts with the health and safety of our own community and the responsibility we have to one another by wearing face coverings, maintaining appropriate distance and doing our daily self-screenings if we plan to be on campus. Let’s also remember and reach out to those who are struggling both within and beyond our campus community. And if you find that you need support, please ask. We have many resources at the university that exist for just that purpose and people who want to help.

We begin this year with some on campus and others connecting virtually, yes, but while we may not all be in the same place at the same time, we are very much together. We are one community that cares for one another, bonded by our mission and driven by a compelling vision to be one of the most innovative and progressive Jesuit universities in the world. Let’s make 2020-2021 a special year for Seattle U and one another.


Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J.