Campus Community

President's Forum

Written by Mike Thee

March 12, 2019

Seattle U President Sundborg speaking

Image credit: Dean Forbes

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Father Sundborg updates faculty and staff on latest at SU.

Stephen Sundborg, S.J., updated faculty and staff on the current developments at Seattle University at his President’s Forum on March 5. Here are some highlights. 

  • At their meeting in February, the Board of Trustees gave the green light to the Center for Science and Innovation (CSI). Ground will be broken in the spring for the $100 million building. The trustees also approved the honorary doctorate recipients for this year’s commencement. Getting faculty salaries in line with median benchmarks is something in which the trustees are interested, the president said. The board also received updates on the strategic planning process and the feasibility study for an event center at SU.

  • The president expressed his appreciation for the Staff Council as its recently elected members embark on their work. 
  • The university’s capital campaign, scheduled to conclude in June 2021, is making good progress, Father Sundborg shared, raising an average of $750,000 per week. “We have some steam now in the engine,” he said.

  • Father Sundborg also alluded to the search now underway for the university’s next chief financial officer. He discussed Search for Meaning’s transition from a one-day festival to an ongoing series organized by the School of Theology and Ministry, and the university’s hosting of the Crosscut Festival May 3-4 for the second year. 
  • Returning to the strategic plan, Father Sundborg expressed the importance of taking our time to do it right. A draft of the plan is expected to be ready for the trustees to review at their September meeting. The board will vote on a final plan in November and, if approved, implementation will begin January 2020.

  • Development of the FY20 budget continues. In January, Father Sundborg provided an update, pointing to the need for expense reallocations. At his forum last week, the president reiterated that investments in faculty and staff compensation are a focal point of the coming year’s budget. He said there are “big challenges,” to identifying reallocations needed for compensation increases and other new investments and get to a balanced budget, “but I’m confident we can get there.” 
  • This year’s Mission Day (April 11) will feature Michael Eric Dyson, noted sociologist, scholar on race relations and author of the bestseller Tears We Cannot Stop. Father Sundborg called Dyson’s visit to SU “an extraordinary opportunity.” 

In the Q&A segment of the forum, the university was encouraged to provide more support for undocumented students and students with disabilities. (Resources for undocumented students can be found at the Office of Multicultural Affairs; for more information for students, faculty and staff with disabilities, visit Disability Services.) 

Another student referenced Seattle University’s decision in September to divest from fossil fuels and asked the president to encourage other Jesuit institutions to follow the university’s lead.

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