A Jesuit
University of
Distinction

Strategic Directions 2020-2025

for a Time of Change
Seattle University Administration building

"Seattle University is dedicated to educating the whole person, to professional formation and to empowering leaders for a just and humane world."

The
Future
of
Seattle
University

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

I am pleased to present to you the “Strategic Directions for Seattle University 2020-2025: A Jesuit University of Distinction for a Time of Change.” This vision for our university and the goals outlined in the following pages represent in a clear and compelling manner what our university wants and what it is committed to become. Our Board of Trustees officially adopted these strategic directions as the guide for their oversight of the university in the coming years.

As someone has remarked to me, “There could be no greater gift to Seattle University than to give it a future.” That is precisely what these strategic directions do. They show us what kind of university we aim to become, what we intend our Jesuit education and formation of students to be, how we will relate to and be enriched by our wider community, how our colleagueship as educators will enable this future and what choices we need to make—especially in academic and financial repositioning.

These strategic directions were developed with the voice and contributions of the whole university and were facilitated and articulated by a deeply engaged Steering Committee. Personally, and on behalf of the Board of Trustees, I wish to thank them for their consultative way of going about this and the excellent result they have produced. And thank you for this gift of a future for the university.

It is exciting to know where we are going and how to get there. This vision and these goals inspire us as we now determine the specific actions that will fulfill these strategic directions. They give us a common foundation and purpose for the challenging and promising decisions we will make together as we develop Seattle University as “A Jesuit University of Distinction for a Time of Change.”

With gratitude,
Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J.
President

Aerial view of campus after completion of CSI building

Our
Vision
of
the
Future

Guided by and in support of our mission, these strategic directions articulate the most important work Seattle University must do over the next five years to further our mission and to advance this long-term vision for the university:

"We will be one of the most innovative and progressive Jesuit and Catholic universities in the world, educating with excellence at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels."

Core Elements

  • Academically rigorous Jesuit education
  • Inclusive excellence across all operations and programs
  • Leading university for environmental sustainability
  • Excellent student experience for all
  • Partnerships for professional development of students
  • Commitment to continuous improvement in every area
  • A home to alumni actively engaged with the university

The strategic directions and vision position the university to build upon who we are and the best of what we do in ways that reflect an ever-evolving higher education landscape and prepare students to navigate a constantly changing world.

Our strategy differentiates the university through the inclusive academic excellence of our Jesuit education, the distinctive professional and career formation we provide within the context of our Seattle location and the attraction of a campus environment that engages, challenges and is supportive. Our students are at the core of everything we do and the holistic education Seattle University provides prepares them for lasting success.

By fully aligning our talents and resources to the needs of society and our students in a time of innovation and change, we will shape a Seattle University that is better, stronger and increasingly recognized for its excellence, purpose and impact.

We Will Be:

  • One of the most innovative and progressive Jesuit and Catholic universities in the world, educating with excellence at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels.
  • Academically rigorous, deeply committed to the values and character of our Catholic and Jesuit education and building within our students the capacity for critical thinking, spiritual discernment, ethical reasoning, artistic appreciation, effective communication and digital competence.
  • A leader in inclusive excellence, with a clear commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in all our work, including our investments in our curriculum, pedagogy, student support, professional development, recruitment, hiring and evaluation.
  • A leader in environmental sustainability that is socially just, recognizing the centrality of environmental justice to our mission and values and infusing the science, economics and ethics of this issue in our programs, operation and investments.
  • A vibrant community, with a campus life that fosters an excellent experience for all of our students through engagement, belonging and community.
  • Deeply connected to our region, creating partnerships that provide our students unparalleled professional learning experiences locally and globally.
  • A learning organization, committed to continuous improvement and to the discipline and stewardship that ensures our financial health.
  • A home to alumni who are active contributors to the life of the university, ambassadors to the broader community and leaders for a more just and humane world.
Two students working together in class on a beach

Goal 1
Reimagine
and
Revise
our
Curriculum

"We will comprehensively reimagine and revise our curriculum, including a review of our academic calendar, to deeply embed practices and qualities that make our education more distinctively Jesuit and empowering."

  • Academic programs built upon the values of the Jesuit educational tradition and methods of Ignatian pedagogy, fostering deep learning, spiritual formation, critical thinking, effective communications and ethical decision-making.
  • Advance our inclusive academic excellence through a reimagined curriculum responsive to the changing needs of students.
  • Build our national leadership in community-engaged learning and provide opportunities to significantly advance and distinguish ourselves in professional formation and career preparation.
  • Demonstrate our academic excellence nationally through faculty scholarship and creative work, honors and distinctions earned by students and by seeking to host a Phi Beta Kappa chapter.
  • Determine whether to move to a semester system.

Goal 1: Reimagine and Revise our Curriculum

We will comprehensively reimagine and revise our curriculum, including a review of our academic calendar, to deeply embed practices and qualities that make our education more distinctively Jesuit and empowering. We will provide our schools, colleges and departments the opportunity and resources to develop a new curriculum that manifests a set of integrated qualities and practices. This curriculum will be built upon the values of the Jesuit educational tradition and methods of Ignatian pedagogy, fostering deep learning, spiritual formation, artistic appreciation, critical thinking, effective communication and ethical decision-making. It will advance our inclusive excellence, both by bringing in a greater diversity of voice and by aligning to the standards of universal design. It will be more fully integrated and interdisciplinary and will give greater emphasis to environmental sustainability within all academic disciplines and in the promotion of the arts. It will extend our campus by enhancing the scope and quality of digital and online courses, programs, and services fully consistent with our quality, values, and standards. It will build our national leadership in community-engaged learning and provide opportunity to significantly advance and distinguish ourselves in professional formation and career preparation.

This reset enables the university to educate in a more cohesive, powerful, and mission-aligned way and will enhance our academic quality. It speaks more directly and responds more effectively to the changing needs of students – particularly those who are underrepresented, first generation, and differently-abled. It speaks to the changing needs of the world especially the digital transformation of the future, and the pressing challenges of climate change.

To foster vibrant and inclusive academic programs, we will strengthen the resources and infrastructure supporting a diversity of scholarly and pedagogical approaches. We will pursue institutional, cultural and structural transformation that aligns our expectations and promotion standards with our educational mission through the Advance Grant. We will demonstrate our academic excellence nationally through our faculty scholarship, the distinctions and honors earned by our students, and by seeking to become a Phi Beta Kappa chapter.

We will determine whether to move to a semester system. This question, which is both important and challenging for our community, requires a review, grounded in research and data and informed by broad consultation with campus stakeholders, that comprehensively assesses the potential advantages and disadvantages of semesters on student learning and experience. This review will be led by the Office of the Provost in consultation with Academic Assembly. Because study of this question will significantly impact several strategic directions and foundational actions, this review will be prioritized with the goal of allowing for completion of a report and recommendation to the president in October 2020.

Alumnus standing in front of Century Link Field

Goal 2
Strengthen
Professional
Formation

"Seattle and the Puget Sound region offer extraordinary opportunities to the university and its students. We will leverage and build upon this location and our connections."

  • Ensure that Seattle, a global hub for technology, philanthropy, creativity and innovation, becomes a genuine extension and integrated part of the student experience.
  • Develop and enhance the partnerships and infrastructure that provide all of our students a range of experiential learning opportunities, including internships, field placements, education abroad and service learning, all of which contribute to meaningful and successful careers.
  • The professional formation of our students, influenced by Ignatian principles of self-reflection and discernment, will be supported by a campus and alumni community dedicated to effective, mission-aligned career engagement and outcomes.
  • Grow our impact on Seattle and the Puget Sound region through the Center for Community Engagement, the Youth Initiative and the community engaged scholarship of our faculty.
  • Become a site of civic energy and engagement in ways that bring alumni and community members onto campus and contribute broadly to a vibrant local community.

Goal 2: Strengthen Professional Formation

Seattle and the Puget Sound region offer extraordinary opportunities to the university and its students. We will leverage and build upon this location and our connections. We will build these connections to create greater opportunities for experiential learning as a hallmark of professional formation for our students. We will ensure that Seattle, a global hub for technology, philanthropy, creativity, and innovation, becomes a genuine extension and integrated part of our student experience. We will maximize opportunities to include in our student's experiences real-world problems from organizations and industries central to Seattle's community and economic landscape.

We will develop and enhance the partnerships, infrastructure and funding that provide all of our students a range of experiential opportunities, including internships, field placements, education abroad, practicums, capstones, externships, project work, service learning, and student employment, all of which contribute to career success. The professional formation of our students, influenced by Ignatian principles of self-reflection and discernment, will be supported by a campus and alumni community dedicated to effective, mission-aligned, and unparalleled career engagement and outcomes.

We will expand the role of our faculty and staff as thought leaders on regional issues and more fully integrate and support community engaged learning, research, and scholarship. We will grow the scope and impact of the Center for Community Engagement and the Youth Initiative, integrating it more fully with academic programs and fostering community-engaged scholarship and learning. We will become a site of civic energy and engagement in ways that engage and bring alumni and community members onto campus and contribute broadly to a vibrant local community.

Three students studying in Pigott Atrium

Goal 3
Enhance
the
Student
Experience

"We will build a campus environment that engages, enlivens and educates all students. We will value and celebrate the diverse identities that comprise our community."

  • Develop activities, programs and engagement opportunities that bring joy, school pride and spirit and human connection to learning.
  • Nurture student persistence and deepen learning by more fully linking curricular and co-curricular opportunities.
  • Strengthen advising, learning assistance, spiritual discernment, wellness and counseling services.
  • Create meaningful campus events and traditions that cultivate students’ sense of belonging and encourage a lifelong relationship with the university.
  • Build greater opportunities for leadership and service and provide intentional moments of discernment on the strengths and core truths that bring each person meaning and purpose.
  • Through hybrid and online programs and services, bring our campus to where students are.
  • Evaluate the opportunity for an Event Center to gather our community, develop championship athletic programs, expand recreational offerings and foster civic engagement.

Goal 3: Enhance the Student Experience

We will build a campus environment that engages, enlivens, and educates all our students. We will value and celebrate the diverse identities that comprise our community. We will enhance the student experience by developing activities, programs, and engagement opportunities that bring joy, school pride and spirit, and human connection to their learning.

We will promote student success by offering support and services that create connections and nurture student persistence. We will deepen student learning by more fully linking curricular and co-curricular learning. We will help our students develop resilience and the capacity to address their life challenges by strengthening our advising, learning assistance, spiritual discernment, wellness, and counseling services. In accord with our Jesuit model of education and formation we will work to assure the integration and mutual impact of all aspects of their Seattle University experience.

We will create and provide meaningful events and campus traditions that cultivate students' sense of belonging and encourage a lifelong relationship with the university. We will build greater opportunities for leadership and service and provide intentional moments of discernment regarding the strengths and core truths that bring for each person meaning and purpose, while revealing the pathways upon which they may share those strengths and truths with one another across all class years and programs. As we increase the access for our services, support, and programs and move further into hybrid and online education, we will find ways to bring our 'campus' to our students wherever they are.

We will evaluate the opportunity for an Event Center. Such a center could foster enrollment, provide a place to gather our community, welcome and graduate our students, develop championship athletics programs, expand recreational opportunities, and foster greater civic engagement, and thereby enhance the energy and vibrancy of our campus. We will conduct a comprehensive evaluation to determine whether an Event Center is beneficial and financially viable, considering potential impacts on enrollment, philanthropic support, operating revenues, construction costs, neighborhood impact, debt and operating expenses.

Group of SU alumni

Goal 4
Support
the
Success
of
our
Community

"Because equity and diversity are integral to our character, values and excellence, and essential in our education, we will prioritize inclusive recruitment, hiring and retention practices and provide the range of programs and learning opportunities that help all faculty and staff thrive in a diverse environment."

  • To attract, engage and retain a talented community of faculty and staff, we will prioritize investments in pay and other elements of employee rewards to remain competitive and equitable.
  • We will become a great place to work, helping faculty and staff develop in their professional capacities and excel in their performance.
  • Mature our shared governance to ensure our best institutional decisionmaking and build trust and collaborative relationships.
  • Strive to offer our distinctive and high-quality Jesuit education in ways that are financially feasible for more students and thus foster economic diversity.
  • More fully integrate our alumni into the life and activities of the university, finding ways to support them in their lives and careers and utilizing their networks to help students succeed.

Goal 4: Support the Success of Our Community

Because equity and diversity are integral to our character, values, and excellence, and essential in our education, we will prioritize inclusive recruitment, hiring and retention practices, and provide the range of programs and learning opportunities that help all faculty and staff thrive in a diverse environment. Assuring distinction in a time of change will depend overwhelmingly on the quality and creativity of our faculty and staff. It will require all of us – faculty, staff, and administration – to work together to make our community a great place for students.

To attract, engage, and retain a talented community of faculty and staff, we will prioritize investments in pay and other elements of employee rewards to remain competitive and equitable. We will more strongly align our practices in hiring, evaluation, and promotion to our mission, values, and institutional expectations. We will help faculty and staff develop in their professional capacities and responsibilities, strengthening our scholarship and creative work, the excellence of our teaching and effective service across the institution. We will mature our shared governance to ensure our best institutional decision-making and to build trust and collaborative relationships. We will strive so that all faculty and staff experience Seattle U as a great and fulfilling place to work.

We will strive to offer our distinctive and high-quality Jesuit education in ways that are financially feasible for more students and thus foster economic diversity. We will seek in multiple ways to make a Seattle University education more affordable, to develop scholarships supporting our students, and to award institutional aid in strategic and effective ways.

We will more fully integrate our alumni into the life and activities of the university, finding ways to support them in their lives and careers, bringing them into the life of the university and the campus, and seeking with and through them the connections and the networks that help our students find opportunity and success.

Student in a biology lab

Goal 5
Reposition
For
Change

"We will build the strategic, institutional and financial capacity that undergirds the success of these strategic directions. We will link them to multi-year enrollment, tuition and aid strategies and comprehensive academic and financial plans that seek affordability and access for students to an education well worth it, while assuring the financial viability of the university."

  • Develop the operational capacity and integration needed to manage the full complexity of a comprehensive university in the 21st century, serving multiple differing populations of students in many types of degree programs.
  • Utilize the newest technology and strengthen practices, policies and governance to improve the experience of our students, liberate the energy and creativity of our faculty and staff, better manage our costs and create the capacity to achieve change.
  • Look closely at programs and services across the university to better understand the strengths and contributions of each to the mission fulfillment and sustainability of the university.
  • Make the difficult decisions to significantly change or end programs where appropriate.
  • Continue to develop academic programs to respond to changing regional demands, particularly in the areas of data and health sciences.
  • Foster institutional accountability by developing clear and measurable outcomes, tracking progress and communicating results.

Goal 5: Reposition For Change

We will build the strategic, institutional and financial capacity that undergirds the success of these strategic directions. We will link them to multi-year enrollment, tuition, and aid strategies and comprehensive academic and financial plans which seek affordability and access for students to an education which is well worth it and assures the financial viability of the university. We will foster high performance, accountability and capacity to change, assign clear responsibility for this work, and track and report on our progress toward our goals. We urgently need to bring about this repositioning.

We will develop the operational capacity and integration needed to manage the full complexity of a comprehensive university in the 21st century, serving multiple differing populations of students in many types of degree programs. By strengthening and modernizing our technology, practices, policies, and governance, we will improve the experience of our students, liberate the energy and creativity of our faculty and staff, better manage our costs, and create the capacity to achieve the change called for in these strategic directions.

We will look closely at programs and services across the university to better understand the strengths and contributions of each to the mission fulfillment and sustainability of the university. We will make the difficult decisions to significantly change or end programs where appropriate. We will do so in a transparent and equitable way using clear criteria for decision- making. We will at the same time continue to develop our academic curriculum to respond to the changing regional demands, particularly in the areas of data and health sciences.