Former White House Press Secretary Joins SU

By Stacy Howard
Photo Credit: Christina Izzo, San Francisco Chronicle


Seattle University names former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan as the Vice President for Communications. McClellan will begin his appointment at the university on September 17, 2012. In his new role, appointed by SU President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., McClellan will be responsible for the creation, implementation and oversight of its communications and marketing strategy.   

“Scott is an accomplished media specialist and public affairs strategist who brings a wealth of communications experience to our university community," said Father Sundborg.  "We look forward to the many contributions he will make as we continue to elevate our regional, national and international profile.”                                                           

McClellan, whose family has a long history in higher education, said he recently started exploring leadership positions at universities for the same reason he first went to work in politics: to serve and make a positive difference in the world. 

"This is an exciting time to join the Seattle University community," said McClellan. "Under Father Sundborg's leadership, the administration, faculty and staff have demonstrated a deep commitment to academic excellence and empowering students to be active, engaged leaders in their communities and beyond. What I discovered during the search process is that the SU story is about offering students something more. Telling that story is what this job is about and I look forward to working with the many talented individuals at SU to help tell it well."  


Three Questions for Scott McClellan

Why did you choose to pursue a career in higher education?

The short answer is it’s a chance to make a positive difference. I was at a point in my career where I was ready to return to a position of service and higher education has always had a special appeal. My grandfather, who was the longtime dean of the University of Texas School of Law and taught there most of his life, used to say, "It's not the dollars you make, it's the difference you make" that matters most. That is something that was instilled in my brothers and me at an early age.

It just so happened that as I began seriously exploring opportunities in higher education Seattle University was looking to fill this new position. The more I learn about SU, the more I like what it has to offer. It just feels like a great fit and that is important.

What specifically appealed to you about Seattle University?

What I came to discover about Seattle University is what students who choose to enroll at SU know—the SU experience is unique. SU offers students a high-quality education, but it also provides them with something more. The university's Jesuit inspiration, its commitment to service and social justice and its active and engaged student body are all distinguishing characteristics that make the experience so appealing.

Students at SU tend to embrace advocacy and are willing to speak out on issues they care passionately about. I think that makes for a very healthy university environment.

SU's mission, values and vision are all things I can embrace wholeheartedly. Just as importantly, as I came to know Father Sundborg, his leadership team and some of the deans, faculty and staff, I felt right at home. It is a team that has built a solid foundation upon which to continue to grow and achieve more great things ahead. I hope I can help contribute to making that happen.

Any concerns about relocating to Seattle and its more progressive political environment?

My wife and I love the fact that Seattle is such a vibrant, fascinating and forward-looking city. We have a number of friends who live here. It is a wonderful place to raise a family, which is important to us. And while the weather may be different, I think there are a number of great similarities between Seattle and my hometown of Austin, Texas.

For me, politics is about finding ways to bring people across the political spectrum together to achieve shared priorities. There are a lot of lessons I learned during my career, many of which I explored in my memoir. Those lessons will serve me well in my new position at SU. I hope to share those experiences with students as well.


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