University of St. Thomas to Open Two Year College

The University of St. Thomas plans to open the Dougherty Family College, a two-year college committed to providing opportunities to pursue higher education to students who have limited financial resources.  The college, the first of its kind in Minnesota, will offer an Associate of Arts degree in liberal arts that can be easily transferred to public or private four year institutions.  The Dougherty Family College plans to admit 150 students in the fall.

The Dougherty Family College is dedicated to ensuring the success of students who come from low-income backgrounds and students who are the first in their family to attend college. The college is designed with a system of mentoring, directed curriculum, generous financial aid, small class sizes and a paid internship program to provide  students with valuable work experience.  The school is modeled on Arrupe College at Loyola University Chicago.

“We are determined to reduce the educational attainment gap in Minnesota and prepare students to become transformational leaders in our communities, state and nation,” said Julie Sullivan, president of the University of St. Thomas. “It is our mission to develop and be morally responsible leaders, who work to advance the common good, and the inspiration for the Dougherty Family College came from within our school and from our generous, community-minded donors.”

Read more about the initiative here.

Catholic Colleges Honored by President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll

Georgetown University won the White House’s Interfaith Community Service Award in the 2015 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, an honor that recognizes institutions of higher education that support exemplary community service programs and raise the visibility of effective practices in campus community partnerships. The Honor Roll’s Presidential Award is the highest federal recognition an institution can receive for its commitment to community, service-learning, and civic engagement. The award recognizes the work of three organizations at Georgetown, the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching, and Service (CSJ), the Office of Campus Ministry, and the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs.

Gonzaga University was also honored as a finalist by the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for their commitment to improving educational outcomes for children and youth. Of the over 776 higher education institutions named to the Honor Roll, only 16 were named finalists.  Gonzaga is recognized for their service addressing school readiness, strengthening schools, boost high school graduation rates and preparation for higher education.

Congratulations to Georgetown University and Gonzaga University for their work in community service!

Catholic Relief Services Webinar on Peacebuilding Now Available

Now available: Catholic Relief Services recently partnered with Gerard Powers of the Kroc Institute at the University of Notre Dame and the Catholic Peacebuilding Network to host a webinar on peacebuilding. Kim Lamberty, Director of Mission and University Engagement at CRS, facilitated the webinar, which is now available to watch online.

Webinar Overview

The opening 20 minutes begins with an overview of Catholic peacebuilding and the role of the Catholic Peacebuilding Network, the Kroc Institute, CRS, and Caritas Internationalis.  During the remaining 20 minutes, Gerard and Kim respond to audience questions and share case studies of CRS’ approach in Sudan/South Sudan and Mindanao in the southern Philippines to highlight the following key concepts and their application to global conflicts:

  • Peace processes
  • Inter-religious dialogue
  • Reconciliation
  • How the Church works with civil society

 

Seattle University Opens Center for Religious Wisdom and World Affairs

Seattle University has opened a new Center for Religious Wisdom and World Affairs, devoted to exploring the ways in which religious wisdom and the resources of faith communities can lend assistance in the analysis, diagnosis and community responses needed to address pressing social problems. The Center plans to accomplish this goal in three ways: a commitment to interfaith dialogue, linking scholarship and faith-based action, and re-imagining the role of religion in public life.

Every two years, the Center will focus on a specific social issue, such as, rising inequalities, gender-based violence, human trafficking and unsustainable use of environmental resources. The Center is focusing on homelessness.

In launching this project, Seattle University is issuing a call for scholars on inter-religious exploration of homelessness. Scholars will meet at Seattle University on April 25 and 26, 2017.  During the course of the two days, they will learn about the issue of homelessness from legal experts, policy analysts, and economists; participate in a discussion with local stakeholders, including religious leaders; and prepare paper proposal abstracts through a collaborative effort.  Scholars will return to Seattle University in April of 2018 to present their papers at a second symposium.  This scholarly initiative aims to produce an anthology that captures the best interfaith thinking about the religious, spiritual, and ethical dimensions of homelessness. Travel expenses, lodging, and meals will be covered by the Center.  Scholars will also receive an honorarium.

To be considered, please submit 1) a one-page letter of interest and 2) curriculum vitae to Manuel Mejido, Ph.D., Director, Center for Religious Wisdom and World Affairs, by email, care of: crwwa@seattleu.edu.  The selection committee will meet in December of 2016.  Scholars will be notified in January of 2017. The deadline for submissions is December 12, 2016.

Happy Thanksgiving from ACCU!

ACCU wishes you and your family a happy Thanksgiving!  We would like to share this special Thanksgiving prayer from Catholic Relief Services.  You can find this prayer, a printable prayer card, and several other prayers in honor of Thanksgiving in their online prayer resource.

Litany of Thanksgiving

God Most High,

Before your son fed the multitudes, he first gave thanks.
Before he raised his friend Lazarus, he first gave thanks,
That all might know your glory.

And so, as we are blessed to do your works in the world,
That all, indeed, might know your glory
We thank you and praise you, O Lord.

For the grace to feed the poor, we thank you and praise you, O Lord.
For the grace to heal the sick, we thank you and praise you, O Lord.
For the grace to lift up the broken, we thank you and praise you, O Lord.
For the grace to harbor the refugee, we thank you and praise you, O Lord.
For the grace to aid the endangered, we thank you and praise you, O Lord.
For the grace to speak on behalf of the marginalized and vulnerable, we thank you and praise you, O Lord.
For the grace to be for the prisoner, the addict, the lost, the outcast, the dying
What your son has been for us
A comfort, a beacon, a shepherd, a rabbi, a healer, a hope
The salt of the earth, the light of the world, we thank you and praise you, O Lord.

Amen.

 

 

 

Catholic Colleges Support Immigrant Students

In response to the heated political debate on the issue of immigration, Archbishop of Los Angeles José H. Gomez, in a September lecture at Boston College, spoke of the importance of not letting statistics cloud our vision of the people who make up the numbers. Gomez explained that it is a Christian call “to remember that behind every statistic is a soul — a soul who has dignity as a child of God, a soul who has rights and needs that are both spiritual and material.”

Catholic universities are embracing this person-centered approach through their policies and programs by welcoming students who are immigrants. By offering support and resources, institutions like Saint Peter’s University, Christian Brothers University, and Dominican University are creating equal opportunities for immigrants, including undocumented students, as well as providing educational programming on the complexity of immigration.

Saint Peter’s University has responded to the needs of undocumented students by opening the Center for Undocumented Students (TCUS). Jennifer Ayala, director of the center, explained,  “The mission of TCUS is to support the academic work of undocumented students at the university, to shed intellectual light on the political and economic realities of immigration in our world today, and to create a community where undocumented students feel welcome.” Resources available through the center include a modest resource library, legal support, referrals and collaborations within the university as well as with outside organizations, internships, workshops for staff and faculty, “know your rights” workshops for students and their families, and advising and mentoring. TCUS also helps students find ways to pay for their education because undocumented students do not qualify for state or federal aid. In September, TCUS co-sponsored a student-organized conference, United Struggles, that educated students on community organizing as a way to engage politically and intentionally with the issue of immigration. TCUS  has also recently co-authored a letter urging the university administration to declare Saint Peter’s a sanctuary campus.

Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., president of Saint Peter’s, pointed out the continuity of the center’s mission with the university’s Jesuit legacy: “Saint Peter’s has proudly educated immigrant students since it first opened in 1872 and seeks to continue and enrich this tradition by extending its welcome and support to undocumented students, otherwise known as dreamers. We are proud to be a part of the large group of Jesuit colleges and universities that continue to advocate for dreamers.”

Christian Brothers University (CBU) is another college providing support through scholarships and a place of community to address the issue of immigration, focused specifically on the needs of Latino immigrant students. Two scholarships are available through the institution’s Latino Student Success Program: the Latino Achievement Scholarship for FAFSA-qualified students and the Latino Success Scholarship for non-FAFSA-qualified students. CBU has committed $12 million in scholarships and grants over seven years to serving undocumented students, funding that will benefit over 100 students. The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics has recognized CBU as an exemplary case for implementing programs that support the expansion of high-quality education for Latinos. Executive director of the White House Initiative, Alejandra Ceja, commended CBU as “the first institution of higher education [that] has publicly answered our national call for commitments.” A student-led organization, Hola CBU, also provides support for students on campus and in the local community. Hola CBU hosts events to expose the campus to Latino culture and create a welcoming Latino community. The group also partners with a local organization, Latino Memphis, to provide services like interpreting and standardized test tutoring for high school seniors.

Paul Haught, vice president of academics and student life at CBU, connected these programs to the Catholic identity of the institution, saying, “Christian Brothers University, as an institution founded on the Lasallian mission of providing educational opportunities to the underserved, continues to advocate for the education of all who stand to benefit their communities by gaining the benefits of higher education. So-called undocumented students belong to this class as much as anyone. If they are college ready, we invite them to share in CBU’s gifts of teaching and service.” CBU supports undocumented students, not only with scholarships, but also with a vibrant community. This dual approach recognizes the many needs of students during their time in college.

borderlands
Dominican University students on Borderlands trip

Lastly, Dominican University was recently honored with the Moral Courage Award from the nonprofit organization Faith in Public Life for its leadership in supporting the right of undocumented students to receive a college education. For Dominican President Donna Carroll, the students are the courageous leaders and the university is called to “stand with them” to fulfill its mission to give compassionate service and create a more just world.

In spring 2016, Dominican facilitated a border immersion trip called Borderlands to deepen engagement with the human and societal consequences of immigration — outcomes that often can be understood only by witnessing firsthand the circumstances of a border community. The program was partially funded by a Global Solidarity Grant, a collaboration between ACCU and Catholic Relief Services that awards funding to Catholic colleges and universities to increase awareness of global injustice and expand student involvement in bringing about change. During the Dominican University trip, students traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana to learn about the social issues present in migration, specifically for people migrating from Central America and Mexico to the United States. Before they traveled, the team of students spent time in prayer and learning about Catholic Social Teaching on immigration. During the trip, students were able to meet people directly involved in immigration, including some who had been deported and some who were preparing to immigrate to the United States.

After they returned, the students shared their experiences at the 2016 Dominican University Caritas Veritas Symposium. Atzimba Rodriguez, a senior in psychology and criminology, spoke during the symposium of the effect that meeting people in Tijuana had on her. She commented, “If anything, we are a bridge, a bridge between two worlds.” While the border stood as a division between the United States and Mexico, the relationships that the students built while in Tijuana emerged as a sign of unity.

Catholic universities are welcoming immigrants to campus and ensuring that they have tools for success. Examples such as those of Saint Peter’s University, Christian Brothers University, and Dominican University show how the goal of providing equal opportunity is realized through programs that promote leadership and provide resources that aid immigrants, including undocumented students. In the midst of the debate on immigration and educational inequality, Catholic universities are making a difference by providing for the needs of students and educating the community on the complexity of these social issues.

Camilla MacKenzie is an undergraduate student at The Catholic University of America and the Peace and Justice Intern at the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.