Dear Members of the Seattle University Community,
I am writing to update you on the MRC Student Coalition sit-in within Matteo Ricci College. Throughout this process the university has remained focused on bringing the sit-in to a good resolution as soon as possible. The coalition students’ concerns around curriculum and culture are ones we share and are committed to acting upon with an urgency of purpose.
The university has engaged coalition students with the help and advice of faculty close to and trusted by our students. Our approach has been one of openness and respectful engagement.
We have outlined specific proposals to address the curriculum and culture concerns and that build upon work previously begun but in its early stages. The Provost’s Office has continued discussions with involved faculty on how best to faithfully implement the proposals to achieve meaningful results and reliable outcomes. Specific elements of the final proposals will be shared more broadly later this week by the Provost’s Office. This work is ready to begin immediately and without delay upon conclusion of the sit-in.
Earlier today, Interim Provost Bob Dullea also informed Matteo Ricci College faculty and staff of his decision to place Dean Jodi Kelly on administrative leave pending the outcome of formal complaints that have been filed and a broader review of her leadership and management of the college. Interim Provost Dullea indicated he took this step based on information that came forward over the past several weeks and his belief that successful operations of the college at this time require Dean Kelly step away from day-to-day management and oversight. It is a step that I support and believe is necessary. An acting dean for Matteo Ricci College will be named soon.
We appreciate your patience as we have worked with coalition students, faculty and others to get to this point.
This situation is an opportunity for learning, teaching and fulfillment of what we as a university aspire and hold ourselves out to be. Social justice—a cornerstone of our Jesuit education—is necessarily messy and unpleasant at times. We may not always agree on the best path forward for achieving it, but we should always be open to and accepting of those with the courage, compassion and care to actively and peacefully advocate for it. We invite our students to be engaged citizens and to seek equitable and just solutions—and should not feel discomfited when they do. Seattle University will be a better university as we move forward because of our students’ willingness to take a stand they believe in passionately.
Thank you for letting me share this latest update with you and please know you have my continued gratitude for all that you do for the university.
Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J.