Father Stephen V. Sundborg, of the Society of Jesus, is serving in his 24th year as president of Seattle University. He leads a comprehensive, independent, Jesuit Catholic university of 7,500 undergraduate and graduate students and 1,600 faculty and staff members.
Since becoming president, Fr. Sundborg’s key objectives have been to enhance academic excellence and to develop resources to support a growing student population. During Father Sundborg’s tenure, Seattle University has built a new Student Center, a new Law School, residential housing, the School of Theology and Ministry, a Center for the Performing Arts, a Library and Learning Commons and a Fitness Center. A new Center for Science and Innovation will take its place on SU’s campus in 2021.
President Sundborg is strongly committed to educating the whole person, forming excellent and principled professionals and empowering leaders for a just and humane world. He actively supports programs that encourage students, faculty, and staff to make a difference, whether in the local community or in developing countries. Such a commitment led to Seattle University’s decision to host a homeless encampment during February 2005—an unprecedented move by a university—and to initiate its nationally recognized Youth Initiative in the Central District. During his presidency, Fr. Sundborg has bestowed honorary degrees on such prominent social justice leaders as Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Corazon Aquino.
In addition to his responsibilities as Seattle University president, Father Sundborg serves on the Board of United Way of King County, the Independent Colleges of Washington, the Seattle Nativity School and Fulcrum Foundation, and is a trustee of Lakeside School and the University of San Francisco.
A native of Alaska, whose father was an author of the Alaska State Constitution, President Sundborg was ordained a priest in Seattle in 1974, and completed his doctoral studies in spirituality at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1982. He taught theology at Seattle University from 1982 to 1990 and served as provincial of the Northwest Jesuits 1990‑1996. He is the 21st president to lead Seattle University since its founding in 1891.