Seattle University receives two donations totaling $42 million

Seattle University has announced the two largest single donations in its 124-year history -- a $30 million cash and estate gift as well as a $12 million estate contribution. Both are anonymous.

"These gifts are truly transformative not only for Seattle University but also for our city and region," said Bob Ratliffe, chair of SU's board of trustees, in a May 28 press release. "The extraordinary generosity of these two donors will be instrumental in forming a new generation of leaders steeped in the distinctive values of a Jesuit education."

According to the release, the $30 million gift will support the university's new Center for Science and Innovation and infuse $10 million into an endowment for student scholarships. It will also promote health sciences education and an educational curriculum known as STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Plans include a new building to provide a multidisciplinary learning environment of labs and collaboration space.

The new facility will be designed so that students and faculty members can more easily collaborate, Michael Quinn, dean of the College of Science and Engineering, told the Seattle Times.

"We want to be able to move seamlessly between lectures, labs and data analysis," Quinn said, noting that actual construction is still some years away.

The $12 million estate gift was made by "a longtime friend of SU who wants to leave a legacy that supports the Catholic faith and community in our region," the school release stated.

Part of the estate gift -- $3.5 million -- will go to the Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture, "which advances the Jesuit Catholic character of SU's education, both internally and externally," the release added. The remaining portion of the gift -- $8.5 million -- will provide scholarships.

SU supplies scholarship aid to nearly 90 percent of its students, yet the need continues to outstrip resources, officials said.

"Our goal as a university is two-fold -- to be one of the world's most vibrant Jesuit universities and to be a university that is critically important to the promise of the greater Seattle area," said Jesuit Fr. Stephen Sundborg, SU president, in the press release. "These two wonderfully generous commitments are absolutely supportive of, and vital to, that goal."

[Dan Morris-Young is NCR's West Coast correspondent. His email is]

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