Seattle U Calls for Renaming of Connolly Complex
By Sarah Haghi
May 17, 2018
“Aware of Geoghan’s record, archdiocese still shuttled him from parish to parish.”
This is the subheading from the Boston Globe’s famous 2002 article exposing the years of cover-up practiced by the Archbishop for the benefit of a pedophilic priest. Seattle University is entangled in an similar situation as our own former Seattle Archbishop, Thomas Connolly, was revealed to have covered up the sexual misconduct of a priest named Michael Cody in the 1960s.
In 2016, the Seattle Times reported on letters from the 1960s, revealing that Archbishop Connolly knew Cody was molesting children. Instead of removing him—as Dr. Albert Hurley suggested in a letter from 1962—he transferred him to different parishes and kept it under wraps.
Seattle U’s fitness and recreation center has been named after Connolly since 1969. Now, two years after the Seattle Times’ report, the Seattle U Board of Trustees voted on May 4 to rename the Connolly Complex the Redhawk Center.
Timothy Leary, Seattle U Executive Vice President was one of President Sundborg’s consults during this process. Leary said the need for this change became very clear a few months ago when they looked further into the issue.
“We decided this is problematic and we need to make a change… Both the cabinet and the Board of Trustees were in full support of the decision,” Leary said. “It’s never easy to change the name of a building.”
However, the university has already done the bulk of the work, according to Leary. Most of the signage has already been changed to reflect the new name and all that is left to fix are some maps and online references.
The decision was made on May 3. President Sundborg sent out an email the next day, announcing the news. In the letter, he said the following:
“I brought the matter to the board at its first meeting following my own recent review of the letters and consultation with others. This review affirmed in my mind that removing Archbishop Connolly’s name from our athletics and recreation center needed to happen and should have been acted on even sooner.”
President Sundborg expanded further on why the change was occurring now.
“I believe we should have acted sooner, including addressing it at the time it was reported in the news. I felt it was important to make sure I, as well as others, reviewed the letters before proceeding,” Sundborg said. “We did so recently after an alumnus reached out to me a couple of months ago and we began taking a closer look at the matter. It is an important action that further reflects our zero-tolerance approach to the issue of sexual abuse of minors.”
“I do believe it is an important change,” Shaney Fink said, the Seattle U Director of Athletics. “It is a very clear statement against sexual abuse of minors.”
Sarah may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org