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President’s Forum - Fall 2020

October 28, 2020

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President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., updated faculty and staff on the latest campus news and developments at his fall open forum on Oct. 27. For the second half of the forum Father Steve was joined by colleagues who spoke about the wellbeing of our students, faculty and staff as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. The full video can be found at President's Updates. Here’s a brief recap: 

  • Appreciating Our Faculty and Staff | Originally scheduled to begin Dec. 24, Christmas Break will now begin Monday, Dec. 21. The university will be closed until Monday, Jan. 4. The two weeks are paid time off for faculty and staff. “I hope you enjoy that. You’re very deserving of having that,” said Father Steve. The president also shared that a faculty and staff appreciation event, at which five staff award recipients will be honored, is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 20, from 1 to 2 p.m. Watch for an invite in the coming weeks.

  • A Name for CSI | The Center for Science and Innovation will be named for longtime friends and supporters of SU, Jim and Janet Sinegal. Co-founder of Costco, Jim formerly served as chair of Seattle University’s Board of Trustees and co-founded the Seattle University Youth Initiative, while Janet has been actively involved in the community, particularly Seattle Children’s Hospital. The Jim and Janet Sinegal Center for Science and Innovation remains on schedule to open for fall 2021. 
  • Enrollment and FY21 | Citing the good work of our colleagues in Enrollment Management, the president shared that, despite the unprecedented challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, overall enrollment for the fall term came in just 5 percent lower than the target. First time in college students (FTIC) were 13 percent below last year's freshman class, which Father Steve noted was comparable to other universities, while continuing, graduate and law enrollment all came in on or above target.

    Turning to the FY21 budget gap, the president reiterated that involuntary furloughs are not being considered at this time, “because we want to focus the whole university on what savings we can (realize) in non-salary (areas).”

  • Program Review | The Academic Program Portfolio Review underway as part of the university’s strategic plan “will now be accompanied by what’s known as the Administrative Programs and Services Review.” Executive Vice President Tim Leary laid out the process and structure for the group, which will be led by three co-chairs—Chief Financial Officer Wilson Garone, Vice President for Student Development Alvin Sturdivant and a colleague from the academic area of the university who will soon be appointed by Academic Assembly. 
  • COVID Response | Josh Halbert of Public Safety provided an update on the university’s efforts in monitoring positive cases, surveillance testing, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation. The president stressed that with Halloween, election day and Thanksgiving coming up, we must all be extra vigilant about stopping the spread of the virus. Other colleagues addressed the mental health and wellbeing of our students, faculty and staff (Kim Caluza, Counseling and Psychological Services; James Willette, Dean of Students; Frank Shih, Academic Assembly; and Leann Wagele, Staff Council). Being compassionate toward one another in these difficult times was a recurring theme. 

Additional Thoughts

The president opened the forum by encouraging everyone to take an active part in the university’s ongoing efforts to more deeply commit to diversity, equity and inclusion. 

On his successor who was named last week, Father Steve said, “I can’t tell you how much my spirits were lifted by the choice and appointment of Eduardo Peñalver as the next president of Seattle University.” As for what’s in store for our current president, Father Steve said, “My provincial gave me three directives: I want you to take a full year off after July 1st; I want you to do whatever you want to do; and I don’t want you to think about your next assignment ’til you’re halfway through that year off. I’m going to obey him on that.” 

Attendees were offered a behind-the-desk glimpse of Father Steve’s work day when his phone rang during the forum. Stealing a glance at the incoming call, the president explained that his digits are similar to a number at King County Elections and that it’s not unusual for him to field inquiries from voters asking about their ballots. (Which is as good a segue as there is to remind everyone to be sure to vote!)

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