Seattle University

Seattle University (SU) is a private Jesuit university in Seattle, Washington.[7][8] SU is the largest independent university in the Northwest US, with over 7,500 students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs within eight schools.

Seattle University
Latin: Universitas Seattlensis
Former names
Seattle College
Immaculate Conception Parish School
MottoFor the difference we make
TypePrivate, Nonprofit, Coeducational
Religious affiliation
Roman Catholic (Jesuit)
Academic affiliations
Endowment$241.2 million[1]
PresidentStephen V. Sundborg, SJ
Academic staff
510 Full-time and 219 Part-time[2]
Location, ,
United States

47.61°N 122.32°W / 47.61; -122.32
CampusUrban – 50 acres (20 ha)
ColorsRed, white[6]
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division IWAC
MascotRudy the Redhawk


In 1891, Adrian Sweere, S.J., took over a small parish near downtown Seattle at Broadway and Madison. At first, the school was named after the surrounding Immaculate Conception parish and did not offer higher education. In 1898, the school was named Seattle College after both the city and Chief Seattle, and it granted its first bachelor's degrees 11 years later. Initially, the school served as both a high school and college. From 1919 to 1931, the college moved to Interlaken Blvd, but in 1931 it returned to First Hill permanently. In 1931, Seattle College created a "night school" for women, though admitting women was highly controversial at the time.[9][10]

In 1948, Seattle College changed its name to Seattle University, under Father Albert A. Lemieux, S.J. In 1993, the Seattle University School of Law was established through purchase of the Law School from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, and the School of Law moved to the Seattle campus in 1999.

In 2009, SU completed its largest capital campaign, raising almost $169 million.[11] This led to investment in the scholarship fund, academic programs and professorships, a fitness complex, an arts center, and the $56 million Lemieux Library and McGoldrick Learning Commons, completed in fall 2010.[12]


Seattle University has a 50-acre (200,000 m2) campus[13] in the city's First Hill neighborhood, east of downtown Seattle. The SU campus has been recognized by the city of Seattle and EPA for its commitment to sustainability through pesticide-free grounds, a food waste compost facility, recycling, and energy conservation program.[14]

The Chapel of St. Ignatius on campus, designed by New York architect Steven Holl, won a national Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects in 1998. At night the chapel sends beacons of multi-colored lights out onto the campus.[15]

The campus includes numerous works by well-known artists: the Centennial Fountain by Seattle artist George Tsutakawa;[16] a large glass sculpture in the PACCAR Atrium of Piggot Hall by Tacoma artist Dale Chihuly;[17] and works by Chuck Close, Jacob Lawrence, Gwendolyn Knight, William Morris, and David Mach.[17]

Undergraduate enrollment in 2014 showed some ethnic diversity: 55.7% White, 23.4% Asian, 11.0% Hispanic, 10.7% Other (International), 4.5% Black, 3.3% Pacific Islander, 1.6% Native American; some dual mention.[18]

Lemieux Library

The Lemieux Library was founded in 1991. As of 2011 it contained 216,677 books and subscribed to 1,604 periodicals. It is a member of the American Theological Library Association.[19]


Seattle University offers 61 bachelor's degree programs, 31 graduate degree programs, and 27 certificate programs, plus law school and a doctoral program in education. The university consists of nine colleges: the College of Arts and Sciences, the Albers School of Business and Economics, the College of Education, the School of Law, Matteo Ricci College, the College of Nursing, the College of Science and Engineering, the School of New and Continuing Studies, and the School of Theology and Ministry. A Seattle University education is estimated to cost $150,000, although much of this is covered by financial aid.[20]

Albers School of Business and Economics

Seattle University's Albers School of Business and Economics, started in 1945, was named after the Albers family. George and Eva Albers were frequent donors including Eva's bequest of $3 million to the school in 1971. Their daughter, alumna Genevieve Albers, has also made several bequests including a sponsored professorship. In 1967, the business school added an MBA program. BusinessWeek ranked Albers's Part-time MBA Program #25 in the nation and the undergraduate program in the top 50 in 2010. Both the Leadership Executive MBA Program and the part-time MBA Program are recognized among the Top 25 in their categories by "U.S. News & World Report's 2010 America's Best Graduate Schools." US News also ranks the Albers School among the top 10% of undergraduate business schools nationwide. The Albers School is accredited with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).[21]

College of Arts and Sciences

The Seattle University College of Arts and Sciences is the oldest and largest undergraduate and graduate college affiliated with Seattle University. The college offers 41 undergraduate majors, 36 undergraduate minors, six graduate degrees, and one post-graduate certificate. Its graduate program in psychology is one of the few schools in the country to focus on existential phenomenology as a therapeutic method.[22] Seattle University Communications Department offers Strategic Communications, Journalism, and Communication Studies majors, as well as internship opportunities.[23]

Matteo Ricci College

The Matteo Ricci College was founded in 1973 and named after Italian Jesuit missionary, Matteo Ricci. The program allows high school students from the affiliated Seattle Preparatory School and other area high schools to graduate with a bachelor's degree in humanities or teaching after as little as three years in high school and three years in college. It also provides students the opportunity to obtain a second bachelor's degree in any other discipline with one additional year of study.[24]

School of Law

The Seattle University School of Law is the largest and most diverse in the Pacific Northwest.[25] It was founded in 1972 as part of the University of Puget Sound (UPS) in Tacoma, WA. In 1993 the University of Puget Sound and Seattle University agreed on a transfer of the law school to Seattle University; in August 1994 the transfer was completed and the school physically moved to the Seattle University campus in 1999. The 2019 U.S. News & World Report Law School rankings lists the school at number 122 in the nation overall, adding that the school has the number one legal writing program in the nation as well as top-20 rankings for its part-time program and its clinical programs.[26]

College of Nursing

Seattle University's College of Nursing celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2010. It is housed in the renovated Garrand building, the site of the original Seattle College and the oldest building on campus. The 19,000-square-foot (1,800 m2) "state of the art" Clinical Performance Lab is located in the James Tower of Swedish on Cherry Hill, a few blocks away from the main campus. Undergraduate and graduate students use this lab to practice skills necessary for clinical nursing. The BSN program accepts transfer students from community colleges and other universities. The MSN program welcomes registered nurses with bachelor's degrees. The Advanced Practice Nursing Immersion program (MSN) offers an accelerated program for those with a bachelor's degree in another field. Specialties available in the MSN program are Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult/Gerontological Nurse Practitioner, Psych-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Nurse-Midwifery, and Advanced Community/Public Health Nursing.[27]

College of Education

The College of Education was founded in 1935 and offers programs that include a Doctorate in Educational Leadership, Masters in Adult Education and Training, Counseling, Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Administration, Literacy for Special Needs, Master in Teaching, Master in Teaching with Special Education Endorsement, Special Education, Student Development Administration, and Teaching English as a second or foreign language (ESL). Educational specialist degree programs include Educational Administration and School Psychology, and special education and certificate programs offered include Superintendent, Principal, and Professional Development.

The College of Education is accredited by the National Council of Accreditation of Teacher Education and the National Association of School Psychologists, and approved by the National Association of School Psychologists.[28]

College of Science & Engineering

The College of Science and Engineering focuses on basic sciences, mathematics, and their applications. Students can major in basic science disciplines, computer science, or one of the engineering departments – civil and environmental engineering, mechanical engineering, or computer and electrical engineering. Students may also obtain an interdisciplinary general science degree, or prepare for graduate work in the health professions.[29]

School of Theology & Ministry

The School of Theology and Ministry is an ecumenical program with relationships with 10 Protestant denominations and the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle. The school offers a number of master's degrees and certificates, including a Master of Divinity.[30]

Community investment

The number of service learning courses at SU has nearly doubled since 2004.[31]

The economic impact of SU in the Seattle area in 2008 was $580.4 million. This figure is drawn from the total spending by the university, its students and visitors.[32][33]

Environmental sustainability

Among Seattle University's many environmental undertakings, there are projects ranging from composting initiatives to water conservation. There are also solar panels on buildings, and a central recycling yard with an extensive recycling program.[34] The university has been composting since 1995, and in 2003 it built the first composting facility in the state on an urban campus.

SU received the Sustainability Innovator Award in 2007 from the Sustainable Endowments Institute for its pre-consumer food waste composting program and the Green Washington Award in 2008 from Washington CEO Magazine for its sustainable landscape practices and pre-consumer food waste composting program.[14] The Princeton Review's 2018 Green Rating rated the school as the #12 Green College in the country.[35]

SU's move to a pesticide-free campus began in the early 1980s when Ciscoe Morris, now a local gardening personage, was head of the grounds department. He put a halt to chemical spraying and in its place released more than 20,000 beneficial insects called lacewings to eat the aphids that had infested trees on campus. The success of this led to other pesticide-free gardening practices.


Between 1950 and 1971, Seattle University competed as a Division I independent school. In the 1950s, the basketball team was a powerhouse with brothers Johnny and Eddie O'Brien, who led the team to a rare victory over the Harlem Globetrotters.[36] In 1958, future NBA Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor paced a men's basketball team that advanced to the Final Four and defeated top-ranked Kansas State University before losing to the University of Kentucky. Seattle University was also a leader in the area of racial diversity, with an integrated squad known as "the United Nations team."

The success of men's basketball, in addition to men's golf and baseball, continued into the 1960s with players Eddie Miles, Clint Richardson, and Tom Workman who went on to successful careers in the NBA. The 1966 basketball squad gave Texas Western University its only defeat in a championship season celebrated in the film Glory Road. In the course of the 1960s, Seattle University produced more NBA players than any other school.[37]

During that time women's tennis star Janet Hopps Adkisson was the first female to be the top-ranked player for both the men and women nationally. In women's golf, Pat Lesser was twice named to the Curtis Cup in the mid-1950s and was later inducted into the State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame.

Before 1980, more than 25 SU baseball players went on to play professionally in both the major and minor leagues. Men's golf and a Tom Gorman-led tennis team were also rated nationally. Gorman went on to lead the US Davis Cup team, where he captained a record 18 match wins and one Davis Cup title (1972) as a player and two more Davis Cup championships as a coach (1990 and 1992).

SU joined the West Coast Conference in 1971. In 1980, it left the West Coast Conference and Division I membership and entered the NAIA, where it remained for nearly 20 years.[38] In the late 1990s, President Fr. Sundborg started restoring the university's NCAA membership. The athletic program moved into Division II in the fall of 2002.

The school moved from Division II to Division I in 2009. Also in that year, the university hired men's basketball coach Cameron Dollar, former assistant at University of Washington, and women's coach Joan Bonvicini, former University of Arizona coach and one of the winningest women's college basketball coaches. In 2013, Coach Bonvicini led the Redhawks to the regular season Western Athletic Conference championship.[39] In 2016, Suzy Barcomb was hired as the new coach for women's basketball after Coach Bonvicini resigned in March 2016.[40] In her first season with Seattle U, Coach Barcomb led the Redhawks to a WAC tournament title and was the 15th seed in the NCAA Tournament where Seattle U faced the second seed, Oregon Ducks.

In 1938, the mascot switched from the Maroons to the Chieftains.[41] The name was selected to honor the college's namesake, Chief Seattle. In 2000, the university changed its mascot to the Redhawks.[42]

On June 14, 2011, Seattle U accepted an invitation to join the Western Athletic Conference, becoming a full member for the 2012–2013 season.[43]

Notable alumni

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Elgin Baylor 1958 NBA Hall of Famer; general manager, Los Angeles Clippers, 2006 NBA Executive of the Year [44]
Anne Bremner J.D. 1982 Seattle lawyer and television legal analyst [45]
Miguel S. Demapan 1975 Supreme Court Chief Justice of the Commonwealth of North Marianas Islands [46]
Rudy D'Amico 1990 NBA basketball scout, and former college and professional (Euroleague-winning) basketball coach [47]
John Juanda 1996, M.B.A. Professional Poker Player [48]
Dino Rossi 1982 Former Washington State Senator [49]
Mohamed Ali Alabbar 1981 Chairman of Emaar Properties; one of the world's largest real estate development firms with $25 billion in assets
Dave Barrett Former premier of the Canadian province of British Columbia (1972–1975)
Major General (Ret.) Patrick Henry Brady Recipient of the Medal of Honor
Gary Brinson 1966 Founder and retired chair of Brinson Partners; GP Brinson Investments; The Brinson Foundation. The January 2003 issue of CFA Magazine named Brinson as one of seven living legends in the investment profession.
General Peter W. Chiarelli 1972 Former Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Major General Bret D. Daugherty 1980 Adjutant General of Washington State [50]
Tom Gorman 1968 ATP Tennis player [51]
John E. Hopcroft 1961 Renowned theoretical computer scientist; co-winner 1986 Turing Award
Janet Hopps Adkisson 1956 Tennis player; first female to be the no. 1 ranked player – for both the men’s and women’s nationally. [52]
Ron Howard 1973 NFL player for the Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills [53]
Carolyn Kelly M.B.A. President and COO, The Seattle Times
Emmanuel Lemelson 1999 Greek Orthodox priest and hedge fund manager [54]
Mary Kay Letourneau 1989 Child rapist convicted of raping a 12 year old student whom she was teaching. [55]
August P. Mardesich Member and Majority Leader of the Washington House of Representatives [56]
Steve McConnell 1991, M.S. Software Engineering Chair of the IEEE Computer Society's Professional Practices Committee
Duff McKagan Bassist of Velvet Revolver, former bassist of Guns N' Roses [57]
Frank Murkowski 1955 Former Governor of Alaska and former U.S. Senator from Alaska
John Vincent 1970 Montana House of Representatives: Speaker (two terms), Majority Leader, Minority Leader, Majority Whip; Mayor, Bozeman, Montana; Chairman, Gallatin County (MT) Commission; and Member, Montana Public Service (utility) Commission
Stan W. McNaughton 1974 CEO, PEMCO Insurance
Charles Mitchell 1974 Chancellor, Seattle Community Colleges; was president of Seattle Central Community College in 2001 when Time magazine named it "College of the Year." Former professional football player with the Denver Broncos and Buffalo Bills.
Eddie Miles 1962 NBA player for the Detroit Pistons [58]
Carol Nelson 1974; 1984, MBA President, CEO, Cascade Bank
Eddie O'Brien 1952 Baseball player for Pittsburgh Pirates [59]
Johnny O'Brien 1952 Baseball player for Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Braves [60]
Jawann Oldham 1979 NBA player for the Chicago Bulls [61]
Scott Rains 1991 Consultant on inclusive travel [62]
Clint Richardson 1978 NBA player for the Philadelphia 76ers [63]
Gerri Russell Romantic fiction author [64]
John D. Spellman 1949 First King County Executive, Governor of Washington state (1981-85)
William D. Swenson 2001 Former Army officer, recipient of the Medal of Honor [65]
Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift J.D 1994 Served as legal counsel for Salim Ahmed Hamdan. Listed as 100 most influential lawyers in the US.
Calvin Tang 2000 Co-founder of Newsvine, former Chief Operating Officer at [66]
John Tresvant 1964 NBA player for the Detroit Pistons [67]
Jim Whittaker 1952 First American to summit Mount Everest in 1963. [68]
Charlie Williams 1967 ABA player for the Pittsburgh Pipers [69]
Tom Workman 1967 NBA player for the Baltimore Bullets [70]


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