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News & Notes

 ... from Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities members


La Roche University Honors Former President

La Roche University paid tribute to its fourth president by dedicating the Sister Mary Joan Coultas Seminar Room in November.

During her presidency from 1975 to 1981, Sister Mary Joan Coultas, CDP, launched La Roche’s first capital campaign to finance a new science building, which opened in 1980 and is now known as the Palumbo Science Center. In recognition of Sister Mary Joan’s efforts and leadership, former colleagues and students mounted a campaign to raise funds and name a prominent space in her honor.


LaRoche University President Sister Candace Introcaso, CDP, during the dedication

“It seems more than appropriate to honor the woman who led the capital campaign that built this academic space dedicated to the sciences with a learning space in that facility,” said Sister Candace Introcaso, CDP, president of La Roche. “It was Sister Mary Joan’s vision and leadership that made this a reality 40 years ago and laid the foundation for La Roche’s excellent academic programs in the physical sciences.”

The Sister Mary Joan Coultas Seminar Room, located in the Palumbo Science Center, features glass walls and state-of-the-art technology. The space will be used for seminar courses, but students also will use the area as a debriefing room following labs, to practice presentations, and to study.


Catholic Colleges Earn Kudos for Being Green

Three recent assessments of environmental commitment among higher education institutions all made notable nods toward Catholic colleges and universities.

First, 19 Catholic colleges and universities were named “Cool Schools for 2020” by the Sierra Club. The institutions were assessed for such efforts as achieving carbon neutrality, divesting from fossil fuel companies, and incorporating sustainability into both campus operations and curricula.

More than 312 institutions participated in the annual Cool Schools effort this year, a feat that the Sierra Club called “remarkable… given the fact it’s been a school year like no other. Beyond having to suddenly pivot to virtual learning and community-building because of the coronavirus pandemic, many schools had to backtrack. Those that had phased out plastic bags and takeout containers, for example, found themselves having to bring them back to comply with COVID-19 safety protocols. Despite such setbacks, the schools on this list have shown incredible resourcefulness as they have innovated new ways to maintain — and in many cases, further—their sustainability objectives.”

The full listing can be found on the Sierra Club website. In order of their appearance on the list, the Catholic institutions that earned a place are:

Santa Clara University Saint Joseph's College of Maine
Seattle University Villanova University
University of Dayton University of St. Thomas (MN)
Loyola University Chicago Duquesne University
Loyola Marymount University Gonzaga University
University of San Diego Creighton University
Saint Mary's College of California Saint Louis University
Aquinas College (MI) Lewis University
University of Notre Dame Siena Heights University
Saint Michael's College  

In addition, both Seattle University and Loyola Marymount University landed among the top performers in sustainability practices among master’s institutions in a listing by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Twenty-four other Catholic colleges and universities were awarded Gold, Silver, and Bronze ratings for their contributions to global sustainability. Read more about the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS) developed by AASHE for college campuses.

Finally, the Princeton Review released its latest rollcall of “Green Colleges,” including five ACCU members in the top 50: Seattle University, the University of San Diego, Loyola University Chicago, Loyola Marymount University, and Santa Clara University.

Congratulations to all these campuses!


Cross Refurbished at Wheeling University’s Chapel of Mary and Joseph

When Ginny Favede took over the helm at Wheeling University in late fall 2019, she discovered that the cross at the Chapel of Mary and Joseph, the crown jewel of the campus, had been damaged by 36 years of Ohio Valley weather. Favede felt the cross was in desperate need of repair and over the summer, it underwent a much-need restoration.

Having spent several years as the executive director of the Ohio Valley Construction Employers Council (OVCEC), Favede knew firsthand the generous nature of Ohio Valley contractors and called upon OVCEC member Charlie Savage of Savage Construction. The firm generously donated the equipment and labor needed to remove the cross so the renovations could be completed on the ground.

Wheeling UniversityOnce restoration of the cross was finished, Savage Construction’s crew and crane returned to campus to hoist the cross back inside the bell tower where the workers reattached the cross.

Prior to the reinstallation, members of the Wheeling University community gathered near the chapel as Rev. James Conroy, SJ, rector of the Jesuit Community, blessed the cross. At the ceremony, Favede noted, “The cross is sacred to us. It represents our pride in and our commitment to our religious heritage and is a unifying message for our campus community. The restoration reaffirms our commitment ‘to being men and women for others,’ and signifies the identity of Wheeling University as a Jesuit and Catholic institution.”

Since the restoration, the university maintenance crew has re-lit the bell tower so that the cross once again shines brightly in the darkness. Today, the cross can be seen day and night from anywhere on the campus.


Pope Appoints Benedictine U. Professor as Consultor on Interreligious Dialogue

A theology professor at Benedictine University has been appointed by Pope Francis to serve as consultor to the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Rita George-Tvrtković is one of only 19 scholars from around the world (and just two Americans) who will advise bishops on the council.

George-Tvrtković is a historical theologian with expertise in medieval and contemporary Christian-Muslim relations. She has taught at Benedictine since 2009 and was previously associate director of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. She has written two books, including Christians, Muslims and Mary: A History (Paulist Press, 2018).

At Benedictine, she teaches a wide range of theology classes, including the history of Christian thought and interreligious dialogue. “Benedictine is a wonderful place because we have such a diverse mix of students,” she said. “All my classes include Christians, Muslims, and Hindus.”

The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue was created after the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) to encourage Catholics to engage with people of other religions. While the Pontifical Council is made up exclusively of bishops, the group of 19 consultors present recommendations based on their experience. George-Tvrtković is still awaiting instructions about her appointment, but likely will travel to Rome regularly once coronavirus travel restrictions have been lifted.


Catholic University’s ‘Angels Unawares’ Statue Begins Nationwide Tour

At the end of September, a four-ton, 20-foot-long sculpture was unveiled and blessed at the Catholic University of America. A month later, “Angels Unawares” departed from the university to begin a nationwide tour.

Angles Unawards“Angels Unawares” is a second casting of a piece commissioned by Pope Francis and created by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz, who has received broad attention for his “Homeless Jesus” sculpture. The original casting was installed in St. Peter’s Square and unveiled by Pope Francis on September 29, 2019, the 105th observance of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The unveiling and blessing at Catholic University was part of the 2020 observance, and the statue’s return to campus and permanent installation will be part of the 2021 World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

This sculpture embodies the Church’s teachings on immigration, particularly the importance of welcoming the stranger and celebrating the many contributions of migrants and refugees to our society. “Angels Unawares” depicts more than 140 immigrants from across history densely packed onto a boat with the holy family. It is based on Hebrews 13:2: “Be welcoming to strangers, many have entertained angels unawares.”

“As a Catholic university, we’re committed to the cause of immigrants, refugees, and displaced people, not simply because it makes us feel good, or it’s the right political stance, but because we find Christ in them,” President John Garvey said at the unveiling ceremony. “I’m grateful to all who made today a possibility, and for the gift to us of ‘Angels Unawares.’ It will serve as a constant reminder to make space in our hearts, in our thoughts, and in our actions for the immigrant, the refugee, and the homeless.” 

The first stop for the bronze sculpture was Boston College, where it remained through November. The sculpture will tour the United States before returning to Catholic University in 2021. Future stops include New York City; South Bend, Indiana; San Antonio; and Los Angeles.


Notre Dame Australia Professor Awarded Ratzinger Prize

The University of Notre Dame Australia has announced that Professor Tracey Rowland has won the prestigious Ratzinger Prize for Theology for 2020. The first Australian and third woman to win the award, Rowland is currently the St. John Paul II Chair in Theology at Notre Dame and joined the university as an adjunct professor in 2011.

Awarded to just two individuals annually by the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Foundation, the Ratzinger Prize recognizes those who perform promising scholarly research relating to or expounding upon the work of Pope Benedict XVI. The prize is often described as the Nobel Peace Prize of Theology.

“I genuinely love reading and researching the theology of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, and I was interested in his work long before he became the pope,” said Rowland. “I used many of his ideas in my doctoral thesis on the theology of culture, which I wrote while at Cambridge, so it means a lot to win a prize that is so closely associated with Ratzinger/Benedict’s work and intellectual legacy.”

Two areas of Rowland’s work may have attracted the attention of the Ratzinger Prize Foundation: her work on the theology of Joseph Ratzinger and her work on the theology of culture, that is, the relationship between faith and culture.


Seton Hill University Receives $1.6M Grant 

Seton Hill University has received a $1.6 million competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Education to provide students with opportunities to achieve academic success through TRIO Student Support Services. 

The grant award will provide renewal funding over five years for Seton Hill’s longstanding TRIO Student Support Services program. The program is designed to foster a climate supportive of success and to increase the persistence and graduation rates of 170 undergraduate students with academic need who come from families with low income, are the first generation to attend college, or are individuals with disabilities.

“Seton Hill University’s commitment to providing educational opportunities to our students who have been traditionally underrepresented in higher education has been evident since the institution’s founding by the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill more than 100 years ago,” said Seton Hill University President Mary C. Finger. “The renewal of Seton Hill’s TRIO Student Support Services grant for another five years will allow the university to provide critically important resources to help our students achieve academic success.”


Walsh University Completes Plaza Honoring Founders

Walsh University has completed the construction of a new plaza on its North Canton, Ohio campus honoring the university’s founders, the Brothers of Christian Instruction (FIC).  Walsh University

Completed in time for the university’s 60th anniversary celebration, Founders Plaza is located on the site of a former gas station. The new addition will provide a walkway entrance to campus with a clock tower, historical markers, and a newly restored Brothers of Christian Instruction statue donated by the FIC Canadian province.

The statue depicts the educational foundation of the order with its founder, Father Jean-Marie de la Mennais, an FIC brother/teacher, and a young student standing together.


Collaborations & Connections

Clarke University announced a new partnership with all 15 community colleges in Iowa, giving each community college articulation agreements with Clarke in at least four of the following transfer majors: business, chemistry, English, history, mathematics, psychology, elementary education, and secondary education. 

Edgewood College entered a new partnership with the School of Applied Science and Engineering Technology at Madison College. Both institutions have approved transfer pathways that will allow students in select technical programs to transfer to Edgewood College to complete a bachelor’s degree in physics.

Stevens Institute of Technology and Seton Hall University have launched a dual-degree program offering students an opportunity to earn an accelerated bachelor’s degree in physics from Seton Hall and a master’s degree in engineering or artificial intelligence from Stevens in five years.

The University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto and Regis College, the Jesuit Schools of Theology at the University of Toronto, announced plans to form an alliance. The two institutions will work together to establish a center of excellence in Catholic theological study, with a mission to promote teaching, research, and formation to serve the Church in Canada and around the world.

Saint Xavier University announced new transfer partnership agreements with three institutions: Moraine Valley Community College, Prairie State College (dual-degree partnership), and South Suburban College.