Written by Mike Thee
May 11, 2017
This year’s co-chairs of the Faculty and Staff Giving Campaign, (l. to r.) Jeffrey Anderson and Joelle Pretty, are deeply committed to Seattle University. Anderson has taught in the College of Education and founded the Academic Service-Learning Faculty Fellows Program. Pretty serves as director of Premajor Studies and Student Persistence and is currently doubling as interim executive director of Career Services. Both colleagues have a lot on their plates, but they found time to reflect on what Seattle University means to them and why they think it’s important for faculty and staff to give financially to the university.
The Commons: What brought you to Seattle University?
Joelle Pretty: The first time around, I moved from Minnesota to come to SU for my graduate degree. I got my master’s in Student Development Administration (2000). When I graduated, it was sort of like leaving the nest—you don’t necessarily think you’ll be back. But this amazing position, working with premajor students and student persistence, opened up. It was sort of like the universe telling me I should return. I’ve been in this role since 2011. I am the director of Premajor Studies and Student Persistence, interim executive director of Career Services. I am a student in the EdD program and I’m also teaching in the Student Development Administration program. I definitely drank the SU Kool-Aid!
Jeffrey Anderson: When I was hired here in ’91, it was to come in and work in the Master in Teaching (MIT) program, which just begun. It was totally revised so we were essentially setting up a new teacher education program. I moved here from Denver specifically to take the job. I’ve taught in the Master in Teaching program 23 of the 26 years I’ve been here. For three years I worked in the Center for Community Engagement (and one year I actually had my office over there). I’ve had the opportunity to teach in other programs. I’ve taught in the EdD program, and for 10 years I taught in Matteo Ricci College in the Bachelor of Arts in Humanities for Teaching program.
The Commons: What do you like about working at SU?
Joelle Pretty: I’m really drawn to mission-driven institutions. I love the fact that pretty much everybody, when you walk around campus, can tell you the three major points of the mission. And that seems to be why we’re all here. It’s more than a job. You feel like we have work to do to make the world a better place, however we show up in our different roles and positions.
The Commons: How about you, Jeffrey—what is it about this place that keeps you coming back?
Jeffrey Anderson: This is actually my last full-time quarter. I’m on sabbatical next year and then I’m retiring after next year. I’ve stayed at SU because I appreciate the university and I enjoy most things about my job—especially my students and my colleagues. There’s a lot that I appreciate that the university has offered me opportunities to do. I’ve been able to keep growing and learning myself, during (my time here).
The Commons: Can you talk about an experience you’ve had here at SU that’s been transformational for you?
Joelle Pretty: When I was in grad school, I had an assistantship in the Office of Multicultural Affairs and I shared physical space with Fr. Joseph McGowan. He was a great mentor for me. I hadn’t been familiar with Jesuits before I learned about SU while researching schools. Working closely with the staff of the Office of Multicultural Affairs was a huge part of why I want to focus my work on educational equity at this point.
The Commons: How about you, Jeffrey—what’s been a transformational experience for you at SU?
Jeffrey Anderson: I think the opportunity to lead the (Academic Service-Learning) Faculty Fellows program has been transformational for me. It gave me a leadership role and allowed me to help other faculty achieve greater success with both their teaching and working for the common good. One year I was chair of the MIT program and I learned a lot from that. Another year I had a Fulbright Specialist Fellowship and was able to go to Germany for a couple months and visit five or six universities and do a lot of workshops and professional development on service-learning.
The Commons: How did you get involved in service-learning, in the first place, Jeffrey?
Jeffrey Anderson: When I came here there was very little service-learning in the College of Education. Because we had just started a new program, there was an opening there to create a course around service-learning. And so I saw that opportunity and jumped in and did that and just kept going with that, in terms of my research and teaching, expanding the fellows program—and that gave me an opportunity to work with faculty from across the university, which I really enjoy. Service-learning and community engagement was expanding nationally around that time. It was a natural fit because it aligned so well with our Jesuit mission and the focus on social justice, service and deep learning.
The Commons: What do students get out of a service-learning course that they might not experience in a more traditional course?
Jeffrey Anderson: They get the opportunity to apply the skills they learned in class and in doing so and reflecting on (the experience), they deepen those skills. They also deepen their conceptual understanding by observing theories and research implemented in practice and seeing circumstances in practice that don’t align with the theory they learned in class. So they have to go back and think, Well, is something wrong with the theory or am I misapplying it here? It makes their learning more relevant and meaningful. It’s contextualized when it’s out in the community where things are really happening rather than sitting in class and just reading it in a textbook or hearing it in a lecture. Students can also enhance their commitment to social change and develop the leadership skills helpful to reducing inequities in our society.
I think service-learning is a potential fit for virtually every (program). And with the support of the Center for Community Engagement here (faculty can) find ways to make it work that are beneficial for both the community and the students.
The Commons: Joelle, can you talk about your work with students at Seattle University?
Joelle Pretty: One thing that has surprised me was how amazing the students are to work with, just how thoughtful and reflective and committed they are. I think we see that at events like Mission Day where we have these student speakers and everyone’s mind is blown. It’s a real gift to help them dream bigger dreams for themselves and try and figure out who and how they want to be in the world.
The Commons: Is there anything about Premajor Studies that colleagues on campus might not know?
Joelle Pretty: That there’s a real intentional, developmental process. The programs we put on or the activities we have students do are based on theory and designed to teach students a process so that when they graduate, they have this knowledge they can take with them into their personal lives and their careers. We’re teaching them the tools they need to be successful in the world. I keep hearing that the jobs our students will have haven’t been created yet, so we need to teach them to be flexible, to be adaptable, to really focus on transferable skills and basically create lifelong learners.
The Commons: What percentage of SU’s incoming students are undeclared (premajor)?
Joelle Pretty: We actually are the largest incoming major. We had 189, so almost 20 percent of the incoming class. And it’s increasing. Over the past three years, we’ve gone from 130 premajor students to nearly 200.
The Commons: So, why did you both agree to serve as co-chairs of the Faculty and Staff Giving Campaign?
Joelle Pretty: I do think it’s an honor to be invited to do this. It’s another tangible way to give back to the SU community. I am a donor. I have money taken out of my account every month. It’s something I signed up for because it was so easy, and it’s pain-free. It feels like this is an opportunity for me to support students at Seattle U. And just knowing how not only financially do scholarships help students, but there’s also something psychological about it. It reinforces that students are in the right place, that they belong, that they’re being supported for the academic work that they’re doing. I got a scholarship my second year in the SDA program. That just sort of makes you think that you’re in the right place.
Jeffrey Anderson: I’ve been donating to the campaign for a number of years and have always felt it’s important to do. So when I was asked to (serve as co-chair), I thought it was a natural extension of what I do and believe in My reasons for donating are, number one, to help support students with scholarships. But I also like the opportunity to target my donation to a specific program. I like the opportunity to select a focus. I also think it’s important to donate to contribute to the university’s rankings, because I know the percentage of donations we get is factored in when the university is ranked. So why not try to support that?
The Commons: What would you say to a colleague who is questioning why it’s important to participate in the Faculty and Staff Giving Campaign?
Joelle Pretty: This is a way to directly impact students. It’s important to realize that this is a huge component of why we’re all here. The institution can’t exist without students; the students can’t exist without financial aid. Also, the actual number of people giving increases our ranking, which helps recruit students and the money we give also helps us retain students. I think it’s a great cycle of saying we believe in what we do at SU and we believe in our students.
The Commons: How about you, Jeffrey—what would you say to a faculty or staff member who says they’re already contributing enough through their daily work at the university?
Jeffrey Anderson: Some people do say that, and mostly I tell them, That’s a decision you need to make and feel comfortable with. Personally, I do a lot of service work and get paid about the same as other faculty—but I’ve found that donating is qualitatively different. It feels like I’m contributing on a different plane. Also, almost everybody here has a disagreement with at least one policy or practice on campus—including me—but that doesn’t mean that we don’t recognize that the overall benefits the university provides to students and society far outweigh the differences we might have with a particular policy.
The Commons: What do you like to do in your free time?
Joelle Pretty: I am a voracious reader. I catch a lot of flak from my coworkers for this. I’m also on the board of the Friends of The Seattle Public Library.
The Commons: What’s a book you’ve read recently that you would recommend to a colleague?
Joelle Pretty: I just read Michael Eric Dyson’s Tears We Cannot Stop, which I thought was really excellent. I talked with my Mom recently about Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, which I read over Christmas break—that’s another one that’s on top of my brain.
The Commons: Jeffrey, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Jeffrey Anderson: My wife and I and friends hike a lot. Climb easy mountains. I swim. We bicycle. I read a lot. I meditate. For five years I was the lead official for our swim team and officiated all of our swim meets. That was a fun opportunity that I enjoyed.
The Commons: What are your plans for your sabbatical next year and beyond?
Jeffrey Anderson: Travel. But then I think it’s time to reinvent myself. I think I’ve done what I can do with my current career and I feel satisfied with that. It’s time to go back and try something new and start with the next phase of my life. So I’m going to use the sabbatical year to explore different possibilities. One thing I think I’m going to do is take a couple classes in the counseling program in the College of Education, because I’ve always had in the back of my mind an interest in becoming a counselor. So I’ll see how it goes and if it feels like a good fit, I will pursue it.
To learn more about the Faculty and Staff Giving Campaign or make a donation, please visit Giving.
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