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News & Notes

.... from Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities members


Neumann U. Sisters Offer ‘Prayers from the Porch’

Coronavirus has caused most of the Sisters of St. Francis at Neumann University to maintain a healthy social distance from the students there. Despite this hurdle, Sr. Marguerite O’Beirne, OSF, Neumann’s vice president for mission and ministry, and Sr. Linda DeCero, OSF, director of pastoral ministry, aren’t letting the virus interfere with their roles on campus.   Neumann-Porch

Every day, the two Sisters spend hours on the screened-in porch of the campus Ministry House, offering students on their way to class a creative version of PPE: prayer, presence, and encouragement.

The Ministry House is located between the residence halls and the athletic center and is directly across the street from academic buildings and the dining hall. The foot traffic is steady.

“It’s too dangerous for us at this stage in our lives to be mingling with the students,” Sr. Marguerite said, referring to the virus. “However, we can speak to them from the porch as they go back and forth to the gym.”

Since last fall, Neumann has been using a hybrid model of instruction. Many classes are split into two groups, which alternate in-person and remote attendance. Desks in classrooms have been spread out to maintain appropriate social distancing. Students also have the option of taking classes completely online.

The porch visits started in the beginning of the fall semester and, as long as the Sisters are isolating themselves, they vow that the prayers and conversations will continue.


Grant to Saint Elizabeth U. Supports Environmental Ethics

Saint Elizabeth University (SEU) has received a $30,000 National Endowment for the Humanities grant to develop a minor and certification in environmental ethics. The creation of this minor will strengthen the recognition of the humanities — vital to developing students in the context of a shared global community.

“Few issues are as pressing and prevalent as the state of the environment,” noted Ryan McLaughlin, theology professor at SEU. “Exploring and addressing our human-centered mindset is important for the well-being of the ecosystems of Earth. We want to provide students with the tools to address the pressing issues posed by environmental ethics in whatever career path they choose."

The university hopes that developing an interdisciplinary minor in environmental ethics at SEU will bring a multitude of diverse voices to the field, including low-income and first-generation college students.

Read more about the grant.


Marquette Receives $1 Million to Preserve Historic Chapel St-Joan-of-Arc-Chapel

Marquette University has received a gift of $1 million from the Slaggie Family Foundation to help preserve one of its most sacred spaces — St. Joan of Arc Chapel. Last spring, university leaders conducted a historic structure report aimed at conserving the more than 600-year-old chapel for future generations. Originally built in France, the chapel was reconstructed on campus more than 50 years ago.

“St. Joan of Arc Chapel is a historical treasure and the spiritual centerpiece of our campus,” President Michael Lovell said. “I want to thank the Slaggie Family Foundation for ensuring that this unique and beloved prayerful space will inspire our students and the Marquette community long into the future.” 

The gift establishes an endowment dedicated to preserving the chapel’s distinctive medieval architecture, including the lintels, ceiling, flooring, and roof. The historic study, led by Vice President for Planning and Facilities Management Lora Strigens and her team, also calls for improved accessibility for students and visitors through accommodating paths, surfaces, and steps on the chapel grounds, which lead through the adjacent Marian Grotto.

St. Joan of Arc Chapel represents the largest work in the collection of Marquette’s Haggerty Museum of Art, serving as an important focus of academic learning and discovery. It is featured in numerous classes and exhibitions.


Marymount and Catholic Universities Join COVID Testing Program

Fast and frequent testing for COVID-19 can be a difference-maker not only in maintaining operations but also in keeping individuals and communities safe.

In February, four Washington, DC-area universities announced a new strategy to reduce the spread of coronavirus. In cooperation with Baltimore City Public Schools and the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area, they are launching a mobile testing laboratory.

The new lab, with support from the Catholic University of America and Marymount University, will be taking in samples of the quick, accurate, and affordable saliva tests for processing. The facility will be able to do as many as 50,000 tests per week.

“Expanding Marymount University’s COVID-19 testing to include asymptomatic community members this past fall was key in allowing our institution to continue to remain open for both in-person learning and on-campus living,” said President Irma Becerra of Marymount University. “As we edge closer to more widespread vaccination opportunities later this year, rapid and accurate testing remains crucial to protecting our students, faculty, staff, and community partners.”

John Garvey, president of Catholic University, said the hope is that “more partners will join us to help keep our community safe and healthy. By working cooperatively to create access to testing that is quick, accurate, and affordable, we will curtail the spread of the virus among our students and our neighbors.”

Read the full story in University Business.


King’s College Online Lectures Spotlight Catholic Social Thought

The McGowan Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility at King’s College is offering a lecture series, “Catholic Higher Education in Light of Catholic Social Thought.” The series features 14 events — all free and online via Zoom — hosted by eight institutions across the country.

Co-organized by Bernard Prusak, professor of philosophy and director of the McGowan Center, and Jennifer Reed-Bouley, professor and program director of theology at the College of Saint Mary, the series covers a range of topics. Lectures include selection and formation of boards of trustees and presidents; race, diversity, and inclusion on campus; the finances of higher education; lay and women’s leadership; and many others. The full schedule and registration information is available online, where visitors will also find recordings of past lectures.

The presentations, which are works-in-progress for the volume Catholic Higher Education in Light of Catholic Social Thought: Critical-Constructive Essays (Paulist Press, forthcoming), provide resources for faculty and staff development, as well as board formation. The project’s two-fold aim is (1) to suggest how Catholic social thought can anchor Catholic higher education during the current challenging time and beyond, and (2) to stimulate discussion of what Catholic colleges and universities might do in order both to preserve their mission and to renew it in the face of pressing cultural and ecclesial needs.

The book project and presentations build upon collaborations among faculty from diverse Catholic colleges and universities participating in the Catholic Social Tradition Learning and Research Initiative (CSTLRI). Some of these participants authored articles in the Winter 2018 volume of the Journal of Catholic Higher Education devoted to the integration of Catholic Social Teaching into the operations of Catholic higher education.


La Roche U. to Expand Mental Health Services

La Roche University will partner with the JED Foundation, a nationally recognized nonprofit, to improve campus mental health resources.

JED Campus, a signature program of the foundation, offers colleges customized support to help build upon existing student mental health, substance use, and suicide prevention efforts. La Roche’s four-year partnership with JED Campus will focus on enhancing and expanding mental health services to the whole campus community.

“Our partnership will help guide us to the next level in addressing our students’ emotional well-being on all fronts,” said Lori Arend, director of Counseling & Health Services at La Roche. “JED’s campus-wide approach will engage all of our offices, programs, and services to coordinate and combine efforts that will result in a strong mental health safety net for students.”

La Roche is committed to meeting students’ mental health needs through positive, systemic change within the campus community. Students can receive counseling free of charge from two full-time therapists on staff.

“Our current pandemic culture has highlighted an issue that we know has been coming for many years. Areas of higher education need to do more for students when it comes to meeting their mental health needs,” Arend added.

Mental health conditions are disproportionately affecting specific populations, especially young adults, according to a study reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2020. This group aged 18-24 years who reported having seriously considered suicide is 25 percent higher than in other groups.

Read more on the La Roche website.


Hilbert College Awarded Grant to Support Students

Hilbert College has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation. The grant will be used to create the Franciscan Advocacy & Resource Center to help students overcome life issues and support and strengthen their ability to transition and thrive in their educational setting and beyond.

Cabrini-Foundation“This is a very significant day for Hilbert College,” President Michael Brophy said. “I am extremely grateful to the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation for this record-setting grant. The creation of this new Franciscan Advocacy & Resource Center at Hilbert will truly be transformative for the students we serve and the community at large.”

“New York’s poorest and most vulnerable communities are facing unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19,” added Msgr. Gregory Mustaciuolo, chief executive officer of the foundation. Honoring the legacy of Mother Cabrini, he said, the grant — the largest foundation grant in Hilbert’s history — is intended to have a “significant impact in ameliorating food insecurity, helping providers as they deliver care and services in this challenging environment, offering mental health services, and sustaining other essential resources.”

Led by Jeffrey Papia, vice president of mission integration and campus ministry, the creation of the Center will centralize five separate intervention strategies to ensure student success. Read the details on the Hilbert College website.


Collaborations & Connections

Benedictine College in Kansas is joining forces with St. Joseph Catholic Schools in a common mission to prepare scholars to be lifelong disciples of Christ. The formal educational partnership not only continues student teaching opportunities for Benedictine College education majors, but also provides professional development programming for St. Joseph Catholic school teachers.

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and Viterbo University have announced a new partnership that provides flexibility and increased academic offerings for students at both schools, effective for fall 2021.

Ohio Dominican University has partnered with the Diocese of Columbus to offer teachers, staff, and administrators within its schools, as well as their spouses and dependents, an opportunity to complete a wide range of graduate degrees at a discounted rate.

A collaboration between Creighton University and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Phoenix will provide improved access and quality of healthcare there, while growing skilled medical professionals for Arizona. The partnership, supported by a $10 million investment from the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, is designed to reduce growing health disparities that disproportionately affect low-income populations and people of color.


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