The Spark

Student Development Newsletter | Fall 2016

Message from the Vice President

With a rapidly-changing student population, the Division of Student Development is changing the way it delivers programs. We are continuing to create a culture of innovation and responsiveness, in order to meet our students’ changing needs. Some particular efforts highlighted in this quarter’s Spark include our new partnership with the Forefront Coalition/JED Foundation to address students’ mental health needs, parent programming—both for parents of current students and for students who are parents—and changes to new student orientation. Read on to learn more.


Finally, in this time of reflection and gratitude, allow me to express my deep appreciation to all of you who support Seattle University students. On behalf of my colleagues in the Division of Student Development, thank you for the ways in which we partner together to create and deliver a robust out-of-classroom experience for our students.

With gratitude,


Michele C. Murray, Ph.D.

Vice President, Student Development

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Working With Students Where They Are

Student Development is increasing student engagement through technology. The Redhawk Experience app (powered by Oohlala) and ConnectSU (powered by OrgSync) work in tandem to provide greater access to engagement by consolidating information together on platforms students already use (online and phones). They can spend their time connecting, rather than searching for information. So what do the apps do?


  • The Redhawk Experience app is the main landing place for all students where they can find events, resources, community and communicate with one another, as well as staff and faculty. This is their information hub right on their phone.
  • ConnectSU is the place for students to take their involvement to the next level and commit to a student group and/or service opportunity. They can search through hundreds of clubs and service opportunities, sign up for opportunities, register a club and list their club programs and events. All calendar items feed back into the Redhawk Experience app.



Fall quarter 2016 student participation with both of these services has increased by 200% in comparison to the entire 2015-2016 year. Orientation Advisors used the Redhawk Experience app as their communication tool with small groups and Student Involvement has seen an increase in the number of clubs registered.


It important to keep the apps relevant by continuing to expand the online content and connection points. For example, Campus Ministry is collaborating to create a rotating reflection component in the Redhawk Experience app and Housing and Residence Life is examining how to expand their communication with residents. Get in touch if you’d like to explore possibilities for your area.

Diversity and Inclusion Working Group

The Student Development Diversity & Inclusion Working Group has completed their work and reported their recommendations to the division. The group's charge was to review recommendations provided by the university's Task Force on Diversity & Inclusion and results of the campus climate study. As a working group, the members assessed the role of student development in cultivating an inclusive living learning environment.


Committee membership included staff, students, and faculty from across campus who met through winter and spring quarters to review national publications, share perspectives on the report findings, reflect on campus climate, and identify various opportunities to address inclusion in critical ways. The recommendations from their work are:

  • Develop a divisional strategic planning to create a system of accountability.
  • Evaluate current resources and structures for gaps and opportunities.
  • Provide regular training, programs, and learning opportunities on diversity and inclusion.
  • Assist in institutional efforts toward responding to bias.
  • Create an intentional approach for climate cultivation.


Implementation is beginning with a workshop and discussion series this month for staff and graduate students in the division. We look forward to more to follow.

Max Snyder Memorial

Max Snyder was a Seattle U 2015 grad who passed away far too young but he lived a life filled with passion. Max had a passion for sharing meals, stories, and laughter with friends. He cared deeply about his community and planet earth and so environmental sustainability was central to who he was as a person and activist. Max’s joie de vivre was beautifully lived out in his passion for cycling and he was a key member of the SU Cycling Club.


In honor of Max’s life and legacy here at Seattle University, several donors (including SGSU) have given gifts to refurbish the bicycle rack in front of the Student Center. The words “Live to the Max,” will be put there to remember him and remind us to live with as much passion as he did. Please join us for the dedication of Max’s memorial bike rack on Friday, December 2nd, at 3:00pm.

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7th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting

Join the Center for Student Involvement at our 7th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting. This SU tradition will be held on December 1st from 6pm – 8pm. Festivities will begin in the Student Center followed by the tree lighting at the Library Patio.

Parent and Family Engagement

Parent & Family Engagement has developed a series of webinars to help families understand student development issues and services on campus. Last year, we hosted webinars on students returning home for the holidays, financing an education and education abroad.


This year we hosted a short webinar on move-in day logistics and academic success. Additionally, we've distributed quarterly video postcards which provide a glimpse of their student’s out of classroom experiences to see the variety of activities that have happened on campus and have been a hit among families!


In the future, we have many sessions on student wellness and fellowships. Families have appreciated the information and the convenience of having access to the webinars on our webpage after the live sessions. We look forward to additional feedback from our future sessions and are excited to engage with all of our new (and returning) parents.

Forefront Campus Cohort Suicide Prevention Program

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Washington's young adults. In 2012-2014 more than 300 people aged 18-24 in our state died by suicide.


In partnership with JED Foundation, the Forefront Campus Cohort Suicide Prevention Program is a university-wide campaign which focuses on suicide prevention, mental health access, substance abuse prevention and treatment access. Thanks to a grant underwritten by Forefront Innovations and Suicide Prevention, the Jolene McCaw Family Foundation and the Washington Department of Health, this 4-year subsidized initiative is set to evaluate and reshape the support networks of at-risk students.


Only ten colleges and universities in Washington have been selected to participate and Seattle University is one of them. Our initiative is led by a team of critical staff members: Kimberly Caluza, Alvin Sturdivant, James Willette, Czarina Ramsay, Dominique Maryanski and Brian Hooks. Now through Winter 2017, this team will be preparing a confidential survey for the JED Foundation to develop customized feedback to create a strategic plan that will in turn guide a road map for university-wide changes in order to facilitate the implementation of a comprehensive suicide prevention program. It is important to note that this program expands beyond the efforts of a single department and integrates the collaboration of all divisions.

Orientation Overhaul

Orientation and Transition Programs has overhauled orientation for both first-year and transfer students starting Winter quarter with a full-day Orientation and condensed Winter Welcome programming to model, similar to that of Fall quarter.


All new students are connected to an Orientation Advisor (a continuing student in a leadership role), performing outreach to new students online and in person and serving as support during their transition to SU.


Through the implementation of our full-day Orientation sessions over the Summer/Fall for new Transfer students, students will learn about the expectations, resources, and engagement pathways at SU to form connections with the community in ways that were not available in the past.