As I settle into my second week as Seattle University’s new president, I want to take this opportunity to express how excited I am to be here and to wish each of you a summer full of joy and restoration. It is a wonderful time to be joining this remarkable community, arriving during one of the most beautiful seasons in the Puget Sound and amid all the excitement and anticipation with the state reopening, faculty and staff moving into the new Sinegal Center for Science and Innovation and the university preparing for the return of students to campus.
Everyone at Seattle University is so excited to welcome students back to campus this fall. Your enthusiasm—your boundless energy—is the life force of the community and we cannot wait to see you. To our continuing students, you have demonstrated a tremendous amount of patience and grace in the face of unprecedented challenges. The university’s faculty and staff worked heroically to provide you with the best possible educational experience under extraordinary circumstances these past 18 months. But they could not have accomplished that without your tenacity, your flexibility and your passion for learning. To our new students, I know you share a strong desire to have as normal and fully in-person a university experience as possible. We are hard at work to make that happen.
Over the coming years, I look forward to working with Seattle University students, faculty and staff—along with our many loyal alumni and friends—to build on the solid foundation established by my predecessor, Father Stephen Sundborg. As I begin my term, my focus is on ensuring that we continue to make good on our mission by preparing our students to become the kinds of leaders the world so urgently needs, by offering them a curriculum and a campus culture that is challenging, engaged and inclusive, in the best Jesuit tradition, and by supporting faculty research and teaching that are as rigorous as they are relevant.
As we return to campus, it is important that we take time to learn the lessons of the tumultuous past 18 months. The pandemic has changed us, pushing us to take a leap forward in our comfort with new pedagogies and technologies. And the movement for Black lives has caused us to take a hard look in the mirror, confronting longstanding inequities. It is vitally important that as we reopen our campus, we recommit to the forward-thinking goals identified in the Strategic Directions and to fully imbuing those goals with the ambitions of the LIFT SU initiative. I have formed a small advisory group of senior leaders and shared governance stakeholders to take some time this summer to map a process for reigniting and unifying the Strategic Directions and LIFT SU processes when we gather again this fall. Giving life to those aspirations—to reimagining our curriculum, strengthening professional formation, enhancing the student experience, supporting the success of our community and positioning ourselves for change—will require the creativity and collective wisdom of the entire Seattle University community.
As we move forward into a new academic year, I welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively with each of you to realize the possibilities of this great university. Please know you have my best wishes and I look forward to seeing you on campus soon.
Eduardo M. Peñalver