Seattle University's successful capital campaign illuminates a bright future
Seattle University concluded a six-year capital campaign with donations that exceeded its $150 million goal. University president Fr. Stephen V. Sundborg is looking ahead to an expansive decade, The Era of Our Educational Commons.
SEATTLE University is enjoying a moment in the sun likely to last through the next decade. The university's six-year capital campaign has ended with $169 million raised to help students, faculty and administrators look ahead.
We take our headline from a comment by President Fr. Stephen V. Sundborg in his convocation speech on Thursday, an annual campus gathering to pause and reflect on the coming school year:
"Ten years ago, people used to say, 'Seattle University is the best-kept secret.' Not any more!"
What had been billed as a "Decade of Distinction" is wrapping up with sustained national recognition for academic achievement by students and faculty alike. The centerpiece of a 10-year campuswide building program — the $56 million Lemieux Library and McGoldrick Learning Commons — is near completion. A variety of bench marks for measuring growth and progress — admission applications, student retention and graduation rates — document the strength and diversity of the student body.
Contributions from 21,000 donors dramatically exceeded the original goal of $150 million. Among the gifts from alumni, friends and foundations were the two largest donations in school history: $10 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and $9 million from Harold and Rita Daubenspeck. Twenty-seven gifts topped $1 million.
Sundborg is looking ahead to the next decade, and the academic growth that will be empowered by the generosity of those who believe in Seattle University and its educational mission.
He christened the new period of opportunity and challenge "The Era of Our Educational Commons." Sundborg wants to put the money to work via $43 million in scholarships, including, for the first time, aid for graduate students. Another $44 million would be invested in academic programs in the university's eight colleges and schools. Another $52 million would go into new facilities to complement new approaches to instruction and learning.
Sundborg wants SU to be ever more creative in how the university engages the community and the broader world. We will all be better for it.
Seattle is a direct beneficiary of this academic dynamo atop Capitol Hill. The 48-acre campus makes its presence felt with a $580 million annual impact in the economy, plus 185,000 volunteer hours by students, faculty and staff, according to a survey commissioned by the school.
Seattle University will continue to blossom and thrive in the fine arts and Division 1 sports, each having a role in raising the school's regional and national profile.
A fine university can rightfully celebrate a moment when a history of achievement combines with thoughtful planning and financial capacity to create extraordinary opportunities. A bright light illuminating amazing possibilities.
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