Posted by Paul Casey on Oct 06, 2022

Former President Sue Nixon called Seattle Rotary Club 4 to order at 12:30 pm Wednesday, October 5, 2022. The meeting was held via Zoom and at the Westin Hotel in downtown Seattle.

Former President Sue welcomed Rotarians and reported that President Beth was busy with her Sports Commission activities. President Sue said she recently attended a play at the Seattle Rep., “Where We Belong”, and gave it rave reviews.


She then Introduced Trish Bostrom and Marli Iverson, who played the song of the day on piano: Blue Moon.
Cathy Gibson provided Rotarians with the Inspiration for the Day.
She said she was prompted to reflect on the positive aspects of higher education in honor of our main speaker of the day. She sited historical figures who valued higher education greatly: Winston Churchill, Malcom Forbes, Mahatma Gandhi, Confucius, Robert Frost, and Richard Branson. Cathy said what she loves about Rotary and Rotarians is that we are all lifelong learners. She said that every Wednesday, she knows she will leave the meeting and say to someone: “Did you know what I learned at Rotary today?”
President Sue welcomed visiting Rotarians and introduced Downtown Seattle Association President Jon Scholes, who gave a status report on the health and vitality of downtown Seattle.
Major points:
Overall, the health of downtown Seattle is trending in the right direction
  • Visitors are way up. Seattle had more than 3 million visitors this year, on par with the highest level Seattle has ever experienced.
  • Workforce is returning but it is slower than hoped for but it is ahead of the trend, when compared to other major cities.
  • Residents living downtown is trending upward. Over 100,000 people now live in the area defined as downtown.
  • Hotel Occupancy: Seattle has the second highest hotel occupancy rate in the top 25 urban markets.
  • Jon emphasized that nothing should be taken for granted. He said making the streets safer, healthy and welcoming to everybody is job #1.  He said that if we don’t get this right people will make other choices, whether it’s for work, living, or visiting.
  • Jon concluded: We want them to choose Seattle.    
Ken Grant Introduced Kelsey Hutchinson who spoke about the history of downtown Seattle’s Smith Tower.
Kelsey said that when the Smith Tower was completed in 1914, it was the tallest building west of the Mississippi. It remained the tallest building until the Space Needle was completed in 1962. She spoke about the fascinating history of the Smith Tower’s construction by Mr. Smith who sold typewriters and guns. The original plan for the Smith Tower was 18 stories but ended up at 42 stories. There were 540 offices, six retail stores, telegraph offices and a public telephone station in the building. At the very top of the tower the triangular peak held a 10,000 gallon water tank that was concealed in the pyramid right above the observatory floor.  It is now a penthouse.
Kelsey said the Smith Tower is as alive and productive as ever. The observatory bar specializes in craft cocktails. She invited Rotarians to visit the Smith Tower.
Jonelle Johnson introduced the featured speaker of the day: Seattle University President Eduardo Peñalver, who is the is the 22nd president. Prior to being named Seattle University President, Peñalver served as the Dean of Cornell University’s Law School and is a Rhodes Scholar. He also clerked for former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.  
A Summary of President Peñalver’s remarks. Focus:  Speech on Campus  
Peñalver said that some of the concern over the state of free speech on campus is really a product of a fairly concerted campaign in certain corners of the media, that are motivated by a hostility towards higher education, which is perceived as being too liberal. He said the same people who were complaining about their lack of free speech on campuses,  are now the same people promoting limiting free speech when it comes to issues like Critical Race Theory on public university campuses.
Another example: The University of Idaho recently issued a guidance to faculty that they must stay neutral and not endorse abortion rights in their discussions with students in the classroom or in private. They may face felony charges if they do so.  
Peñalver suggested that we should look at how students advance their opinions without the vitriol we see today. He mentioned his previous experience with the Calvin Commission who was tasked with defining the role of higher education. He didn’t think the committee got it right when they advocated that teaching and research as the primary focus.
He said that if those guidelines are literally followed, he questioned whether Catholic Universities like Notre Dame, Georgetown, and Seattle University could even exist.
Only 25% of students at Seattle University are Catholic. This allows for divergent views. He said that opinions based on professional competence or lack of is the measure as to whether a faculty member will be retained at a particular college or university. He concluded by saying we don’t need to go back to Galileo to find people who were dissenting from the prevailing point of view but ultimately proved to be correct.  
A question and answer session followed President Peñalver’s presentation.     
President Sue thanked Seattle University President Peñalver for his presentation and announced a donation to  Harvest Against Hunger that will be made in his name.
President Sue also thanked Rotary Club 4 Gold Sponsors, that include HAH and Liz Powell and the other sponsors: Bob Alexander, Joel Ferrell, Dominik Musafia, Jacobson Jarvis, Net Tech, Live Oak.      
Ken Grant spoke about upcoming Rotary speakers in October which includes: Curt Blake, Satellite Industry on October 12; Ann Davidson, City Attorney, October 19; and Anahita Dalmia, Fake News on October 26.  Visit the Seattle Rotary Club 4 web site for these and other upcoming programs. Ken also announced Rotary activities during October:  Whale Watching, October 8, (better hurry), International District Tour October 13, and World Polio Day at the Gates Foundation on October 20.
In closing, former Rotary President Sue read a message from President Beth about the excitement that sports has brought to Seattle. Huskies comeback against UCLA, the Seahawks win over Detroit, the great success of The Reign and the NBA playing an exhibition game in Climate Pledge Arena that drew over 18,000 fans. 
She concluded the meeting by a quote from Ken Griffey Jr. “When you have fun, it turns all the pressure into pleasure.   
The meeting adjourned 1:27 p.m.   
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