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News & Notes

... from Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities members  


Saint Leo Announces Merger with Marymount California

At the end of July, Saint Leo University President Jeffrey Senese announced that the university had signed an agreement to merge with Marymount California University, following a vote from the university’s board of trustees.

This agreement will unite the two Catholic, values-based institutions together under the Saint Leo University name. Saint Leo University is based in St. Leo, Florida, north of Tampa, and Marymount California University is in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. Saint-Leo-University

“There is value that comes from two universities working together to create something powerful for our students,” said Senese. “Working with Marymount, Saint Leo University looks forward to making an even more meaningful impact on Catholic higher education from coast to coast.”

This first merger for Saint Leo is expected to offer many benefits for both institutions, including providing students with more degree program options and internship opportunities, around-the-clock support for students studying online, and more university location options to consider attending.

Read the full announcement on the website of Saint Leo University.


Villanova Program Fosters Legal Advocates for Migrants and Refugees

The immigration process can be overwhelming for many families and individuals trying to navigate its intricacies without assistance. For most, finding an immigration attorney is difficult or costly. Unlike the defendant in a criminal proceeding, migrants are not entitled to a court-appointed lawyer, leaving six out of ten migrants — many of whom are children — to face the immigration system without representation, according to the American Immigration Council.

Villanova Interdisciplinary Immigration Studies Training for Advocates (VIISTA) is the first university-based, online certificate program to train immigrant advocates.

“VIISTA responds to the tremendous need for immigrant advocates and also to the growing interest in immigration law and advocacy,” said Michele Pistone, professor of law at Villanova University’s Charles Widger School of Law, and the founder and faculty director of VIISTA. “It also answers a call from Pope Francis for Catholic colleges and universities worldwide to do more for migrants and refugees in the areas of education, research, and service. Access to justice restores immigrants’ joy, hope and dignity.”

VIISTA is built from and reinforces Villanova’s Catholic Augustinian values of Veritas, Unitas, and Caritas, or truth, unity, and love. The students who complete the VIISTA program are able to embody those values and provide much needed assistance to migrants in dire need of representation. Villanova-VIISTA

Designed by an interdisciplinary team of leading faculty, lawyers, and non-profit organizations, VIISTA revolutionizes education about the law by educating legal advocates. The ultimate goal of VIISTA is to build the scope and the role of legal immigration advocates among those without a law degree, in the same vein as nurse practitioners in the health care field.

More information on the VIISTA program and its goals is available from Villanova’s College of Professional Studies.


Scranton Launches Effort to Promote Excellence in Public Service

The University of Scranton has announced plans to establish a Center for Ethics and Excellence in Public Service, with a full launch planned during the current fall semester.

Housed in the university’s Political Science Department of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Center will work to foster the development of ethical and competent public officials and civically knowledgeable, responsible, and engaged community members. It will develop new educational and networking opportunities for incumbent and aspiring public servants, including training in the legal and ethical obligations of public servants, as well as the knowledge, skills, and capacities essential to just and effective governance.

Moreover, the Center will be a clearinghouse for information on local and state governments and officials, with educational opportunities for public servants.

“The programming and research created and shared by the Center for Ethics and Excellence in Public Service will offer new and meaningful opportunities for students who wish to pursue a career in public service or are interested in findings ways to pursue justice and contribute positively to their communities,” said Jean Harris, professor of political science and co-director of the Center.

Read the full release from the University of Scranton.


Two ACCU Members Land Grants to Boost Social Work Graduates

Catholic universities in Connecticut and Pennsylvania recently received grants from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to increase the number of licensed master social workers, who provide interdisciplinary team-based, culturally inclusive behavioral health care. Both grants target training working for areas with medically underserved and vulnerable populations of all ages.

Sacred Heart University’s School of Social Work received a $1.78 million, four-year grant, which will support the project “Making IMPACTS: Integrating Mental Health into Primary Care—Training for Social Work,” organized by the university’s School of Social Work and in collaboration with its master of public health and physician assistant programs in the College of Health Professions. Carlow

Carlow University received a $1.9 million grant to enable hands-on, interprofessional, interdisciplinary training for students in its Master of Social Work (MSW) and Counseling Psychology Doctorate (PsyD) degree programs. The Carlow Underserved and Rural Engagement (CURE) program will provide stipend support for a behavioral workforce with experience in serving vulnerable populations in rural and underserved areas.

“Advocating for vulnerable and underserved populations is central to Carlow University’s own values,” said Carlow President Kathy Humphrey. “The CURE program is a timely and much needed reflection on how Carlow continues to adapt to the needs of our community regardless of what is happening around the world.”

Read more about the grant on the websites of Sacred Heart University and Carlow University.


Seton Hall Students Receive National Media Award

The Heart of the Hall, the student publication for Seton Hall University’s Office of Mission and Ministry, received an Honorable Mention as one of the Best University Student Publications from the Catholic Media Association.

An organization of nearly 250 publication and 500 individual Catholic journalists and communications professionals in the United States and Canada, the Catholic Media Association notified the publication in May that its fall 2020 edition, which is free to read on its blog, received the honor, part of the association’s Student Journalism Awards, which acknowledge the outstanding work of students studying in the communication and arts fields. 

“This award means a lot as we have been working hard and putting everything we can into each edition,” said Emma Newgarden, the publication's editor-in-chief of content, who is studying Religion and Classical Studies with a minor in English. “It’s encouraging to see that our hard work is getting recognized and paying off, and hopefully our readers are also picking up the honesty and truth we work so hard to put into our articles.” Seton-Hall

Founded in 2018, The Heart of the Hall’s mission is to publish articles to lead students, faculty, and alumni to recognize the value in the Catholic mission at Seton Hall University, by drawing their hearts and minds toward Catholicism's truth and beauty.

“We want everyone from the Seton Hall community to get something from The Heart of the Hall,” said Bridgette Favale, editor-in-chief of layout and rising senior studying English. “While we do want to help religious people grow in their faith, the publication can also help those who are not religious explore the Catholic tradition.”

Read the full release on the Seton Hall University website.


Barry University Community Comes Together in Solidarity with the Cuban People

In July, members of the Barry University community gathered in front of the university’s Peace Pole on the main campus for a moment of prayer and reflection in solidarity with the Cuban people. Against the backdrop of a Cuban flag, University Chaplain Father Cristobal Torres spoke of peace and freedom and the right to human dignity for all.

“We wanted to make sure that we stood in solidarity with Cuba with our prayers and at the same time we prayed for Haiti and we prayed with all of the people right now who are in need of peace, who are looking for freedom, who are looking for a more dignified life, in so many ways,” Father Cristobal said. “But in a special way to stand with the Cuban people as they call for freedom and for a renewed homeland.”

The event was sponsored by Barry University Campus Ministry and the Barry University Institute for Immigration Studies, which was founded this year to promote education and understanding of the South Florida immigrant experience.

With that experience so deeply tied to Cuba for so many in our South Florida Community, Giselle Elgarresta Rios, founding director of the Institute for Immigration Studies, underscored the significance of the event. “Today was to show prayer, to show peace, to show that we support libertad on the island and that we are against dictatorship.”

Barry University’s Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law hosted a simultaneous event on its Orlando campus.


Mount St. Mary’s Helps Mary Statue Shine

For 57 years, the 26-foot gold-leafed statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary overlooking Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md., has been a brightly shining beacon of faith and hope to the university community, millions of visitors at the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, and people traveling through the area. Over the summer, the golden statue of the Blessed Mother was temporarily removed from her perch atop the 78-foot Pangborn Memorial Campanile for refurbishment.

“The Blessed Mother has watched over campus with her motherly heart and offered hope to millions,” said President Timothy E. Trainor. “Now it is our turn to care for her image and ensure that her beacon of faith and hope shines for future generations.”

In preparing to regild the golden statue of the Blessed Mother this spring, university officials discovered that the statue’s interior structural steel supports were corroded and needed to be significantly refurbished. Photo courtesy of MSMU

Originally commissioned in 1964 from the noted Italian sculptor Marcello Tommasi, the sculpture was cast from a full-size plaster model in Pietresanta, Italy, and was transported to Baltimore by boat and then to Emmitsburg by truck. At the time of the dedication of the Pangborn Memorial Campanile on May 1, 1964, the statue was believed to be the largest ever imported to the United States in a single piece.

Read the full release and see additional photos on the Mount St. Mary’s University website.