Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Mission Examen Calls for Reflection


As Seattle University celebrates its 125th anniversary, it must also undergo a self-study imposed by the Superior General of the Jesuits: the “Mission Examen.” The examen is led in part by Fr. Peter Ely, S.J., along with 13 other individuals. This committee is in charge of writing a reflection report on the progress and setbacks of Seattle University.


A crucifix hangs in the chapel.

On Thursday, Oct. 20, University President Fr. Stephen Sundborg, S.J., sent out a college-wide email with an overview of this Examen. In the email there was mention of the opportunity the Examen poses and the significance of it taking place during Seattle U’s 125th anniversary.

“The Mission Examen is an opportunity to reflect on the university’s Catholic, Jesuit mission—where we are strong, and where we have room to grow—and to set some goals for the future,” Sundborg wrote in the email.

In other words, this is a self-study to determine whether this institution remains on the path of its Jesuit mission.  The self-study is led through ongoing reflection by different departments on campus.

The Superior General of the Jesuits, Fr. Arturo Sosa, S.J, prompted the examen. All 28 Jesuit Colleges and Universities in the country will undergo this Examen. Seattle U was placed in the second round.

“The intention is to improve the way that we do our work as a mission university. We’re not just an assembly line,” said Terri Clark, associate professor in the College of Nursing and committee member. “We are people, human beings, interacting with one another. Are we respectful? Are we caring? Are we compassionate? How can we do better? That’s the goal, I think. And how well we use this opportunity remains to be seen.”

The Examen is at its beginning stages. Thus far the committee has met twice to understand the process and edit documents so they match what’s principle at our campus.

Representing the undergraduate student population in the committee meetings is Sophomore Claire Lucas.

“A lot of the conflicts I’m coming up with is how do I, as one student, embody the whole perspective of all the student body in how we live out our mission. There’s so many different opinions and perspectives,” Lucas said.

Lucas, along with Vice President of University Affairs Braden Wild and Seattle U senior Claire Rawson, are working to alleviate this problem. Together they ensure that student body voices are a concern in the committee meetings.

In the past, religious institutions have drifted away from the core campus mission, such as Yale, Princeton and Harvard. This process will decide whether the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities are doing their part to ensure that the Jesuit mission is still put into practice in all aspects of college life.

“We have to ask ourselves that question, are we continuing to be in a genuine, authentic way, Jesuit and Catholic universities? So they’re asking us to reflect on that and then they will give their feedback,” Ely said.

“Some Characteristics of Jesuit Universities,” is a document that provides Seattle U a standard against which it will be measured. It includes seven characteristics that abide our university’s mission. The original characteristics were written by the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) and skewed by Seattle U’s committee to better fit our mission.

The seven characteristics are 1) leadership’s commitment to the mission, 2) the academic life, 3) a Catholic Jesuit campus culture committed to formation and education of the whole person, 4) service, social justice and global engagement, 5) service to the local church and a connection to the Wider Global Church, 6) Jesuit presence and Lay Leadership formation, and 7) university commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion and institutional integrity.

In relation to using the seven characteristics to help guide college-wide discussion, there are two questions that the committee will use to understand our status as a campus. These questions are:

1. What are the ways in which the spirit of our Jesuit, Catholic Mission finds expression in the life of Seattle University with regard to these seven characteristics?

2. What are the challenges we face as we seek to grow in the expression of our Jesuit, Catholic mission?

The committee is organizing input sessions with about eleven groups to hear what different members at Seattle U have to say. Once reflecting on these voices, the committee will write a report that will then be reviewed by an off-campus third party. This third party is comprised of four individuals from various Jesuit universities in the country.

In February, this third-party review team will come to Seattle U to speak to the groups whose input was recorded. It will determine how successful the committee was in documenting their answers, comments and concerns.

“It really is a good time for us to see if we are living up to our vision and living up to our calling,” Clark concluded.

This Examen is an opportunity for everyone to reflect aloud. It is a time to criticize and applaud the campus and to hold the university accountable for practices that don’t align with the university mission.

The editor may be reached at
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