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Written by Mike Thee
November 12, 2019
At his fall quarter forum on Oct. 24, President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., updated the campus on a number of current initiatives and issues at Seattle University.
Father Sundborg began by sharing that The Campaign for the Uncommon Good, which was publicly launched in early October, has raised $252 million toward the $275 million goal, and he attributed the success of the fundraising effort to SU’s faculty and staff. “People give to a university because of what it is,” he said, “and it is what it is because of you.” He also noted that the Center for Science and Innovation project, a key component of the campaign, is on target and on budget.
While overall enrollment for 2019-2020 fell short of projections, the president noted that the retention rate for continuing students had improved. The resulting budget deficit was covered through a variety of measures that did not require an across-the-board cut, however, the president cautioned that the FY2021 budget presents a significant challenge. While saying he would not call it a crisis, it is “an urgent issue to face.”
Father Sundborg also updated attendees on the strategic plan for the next five years, which will be presented to the Board of Trustees for consideration and approval at their Nov. 14 meeting. He referenced the vision, five goals and 17 potential actions included in the plan, and spoke of the high level of campus engagement that went into its development. “I want to say that the Strategic Planning Steering Committee has really gotten an A+++ in terms of how well they’ve gone out and engaged with the entire community over the course of almost an entire year…There’s probably no document that better represents the full voices of the university than what they have in (the strategic plan).”
Father Sundborg also addressed the recent controversy over his decision to remove a referral to Planned Parenthood from a page of the university’s website. He noted the tension inherent to being, in his mind, “the most inclusive and progressive Jesuit university in the world” and shared what he took away from many conversations he has had with students on the issue. While the decision on the Planned Parenthood referral—which is consistent with the practices at all of the other 26 Jesuit institutions in the nation—will not be rescinded, the president said he welcomes the opportunity to more regularly engage with students in order to inform future decisions.
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