Campus Community

Unwavering Supporters

Written by Dean Forbes

November 11, 2014

bright red and white SU umbrella on a rainy day

University's highest honor is bestowed on dedicated alumni, community advocates.

Joe, '67 and Terri Gaffney, '67, '89, whose unwavering support of and involvement with Seattle University, as well as the greater Seattle community, dates back  40 years, are the 2014 recipients of the St. Ignatius Medal, the university's highest honor. 

The medal is awarded to individuals whose leadership, humility and outstanding service contribute to SU's mission of empowering leaders for a just and humane world. The award is named for St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits whose work inspires the SU mission today. The Gaffneys (pictured above) were formally honored during the 31st Annual Gala on Nov. 8. The event raised more than $630,000 for student scholarships.

Joe is a successful tax and estate-planning attorney at the international law firm of Dorsey & Whitney, LLP in Seattle. Terri is a spiritual director and has taught in the SU School of Theology and Ministry.

"The rich history of Seattle University is built upon the dedication, hard work and voluntary service of individuals within the university's alumni and the Jesuit community. Terri and Joe Gaffney are Seattle University at its core and at its best," said Father Stephen Sundborg, president. "They live the Jesuit spirit and animate others around them, generously and joyfully giving of themselves whether serving those in need or mentoring students to succeed."

From 1988­­-2004, Joe served on the Board of Trustees, following eight years as a regent. He has been involved in every SU capital campaign beginning with the 21st Century Campaign in 1980. Additionally, he led the university's Planned Giving Committee. Currently, he is a member of the SU Trustees' Investment Committee.

Terri has served on the board for the School of Theology and Ministry since its inception, including as co-chair. She was also part of the planning committee for Chapel of St. Ignatius. Terri is currently a member of the Catholic Jesuit Identity Committee, which advises the Board of Trustees.

The Gaffneys also have served together on several SU committees and were among the creators of two endowments: the Patrick J. Howell, S.J., Professorship of Theology and Ministry and the Loretta Jancoski Endowed Scholarship.

Passionate about higher education, the Gaffneys are tireless in their efforts to help students pursue a college education. As general counsel and a board member of the College Success Foundation (CSF) since its inception in 1998, Joe helped CSF raise funds to provide support services and award more than $200 million in college scholarships to underrepresented students.

"Terri and I are honored to be recognized by an institution that we love so much and which has been a central part of our lives for so many years," said Joe. "Seattle University puts its values and teaching into practice every day. It has inspired us to do the same with our lives."

Together or separately Joe and Terri have served on numerous boards of directors and committees including Full Life Care,  The Seattle Foundation, ArtsFund, Roots of South Sudan, Ignatian Spirituality Center, Catholic Community Services, Seattle Preparatory School, Forest Ridge School, St. Joseph's, Independent Colleges of Washington, Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center and the Seattle Youth Symphony. 

Among his professional legal accomplishments, Joe received the King County Bar Association's 2014 "Pro Bono" award that honored his 40 years of volunteer work at the Neighborhood Legal Clinic in Seattle, which he co-founded in 1974.

"In their life and work together, Joe and Terri Gaffney embody the ideal we hope all Seattle University students and alumni will emulate," said Pat Howell, S.J., professor of pastoral theology.  "Their commitment to a just and humane world is what activates them, what captures their energy. Their contributions-through their attitude, their take on life, their hospitality and generosity-help to make Seattle University's commitment to its mission even stronger."