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President's Letter

 

 

Dear Colleagues,

I'm writing to invite us — all of us — to reflect on the moment.  

The COVID-19 pandemic and the protests against racial injustice are mirrors of a sort, showing us ourselves as a nation.  Both offer rich opportunities for us to consider the purposes of a higher education.

We lead institutions of high purpose.  We make claims about the social good our institutions contribute, and about the virtues we want alumni to bring to a waiting world.  I believe it's a useful time to think collectively about our noble purposes, put them in dialogue with the context of the nation’s two great challenges of the moment, and consider what this moment requires of institutions such as ours.

We prepare undergraduates for the world ahead of them and graduate students who are already in the fray.  How should we prepare them?  For what should we prepare them?  How should our present practices change?  We assemble scholars — how could their expertise be leveraged for this moment?

Rev-Dennis-Holtschneider

I know your attention is directed to running a university with reduced income streams while keeping everyone employed and healthy.  Even still, moments like this call for more.  

Think broadly, or, if you prefer, focus on a more specific part of university curricula and programming:

  • Muse on the core curriculum and the outcomes it should achieve now.
  • Should the purposes of philosophy or ethics evolve in some manner?
  • What are the outcomes to be gained now from theological study?
  • Should service-learning take a new turn?
  • Reflect on the programming appropriate to university housing, Greek life, student social clubs, leadership training, and the broad panoply of extracurricular learning opportunities.
  • How should our mission work be structured?
  • How is campus culture shaped to pursue a higher purpose?
  • What would Jesus do if he led a university right now?  Or the founder of your sponsoring congregation? 
  • Where does some aspect of Catholic Social Teaching lead you in thinking about this moment and the purposes of a university?

…Or any other insight on how either of these two social challenges should make us rethink our approaches to a higher education.

If you wish, share those thoughts with us at ACCU.  You can send them to pmoore@accunet.org.  Please do not worry about great profundity or novel approaches.  Think humbly and simply.  Just muse into your computer screens and send us a paragraph or two.  ACCU may share these writings with our colleagues, bring them to public attention, and perhaps even publish them.

What's important is that we not miss the opportunity to speak to one another about the implications this moment has for our noble work.

God bless you all, 

Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, CM