Catholic Colleges and Universities Honor St. Francis of Assisi with a Week Long Celebration

The Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi was celebrated on October 4th. Several Catholic colleges and universities commemorated the life of this humble saint with a week-long celebration. St. Francis was a man characterized by his conversion from a wealthy man to humble servant to the poor and preacher of the Gospel. St. Francis’ mission of embracing marginalized people is one that Catholic colleges and universities strive to embody through their work of service. Through celebrating the life of St. Francis, colleges and universities reaffirmed their desire to serve others in their community, to care for the environment, and to fight for social justice related issues.

St. Francis College, Hilbert College, and Viterbo University are among some of the schools that dedicated a week to St. Francis. The week consisted of different activities and a speaker series that relate to the mission of St. Francis. At St. Francis College they kicked off with a party and throughout the week hosted a series of talks relating to Franciscan spirituality and including “A Conversation on Hospitality” with St. Francis’s President, Miguel Martinez-Saenz. At Hilbert College there was a keynote address given by Fr. David Couturier titled “Franciscan Values & Millennials: Envisioning a Healthy World Economy.” The purpose of the address was to “advance a dialogue on how St. Francis of Assisi’s understandings of a social or fraternal economy can effectively inform many of the economic challenges that Millennials face today and in the future.” The week also featured service opportunities of feeding those in need as well as reflections and a mass to guide the week. Viterbo College spent the week hosting a series of liturgies, prayer services, and volunteer opportunities. One of these included a blessing of the animals, which reminded everyone how St. Francis had such a deep love for animals that he would even preach to them.

Spend a few minutes reflecting on the life of St. Francis of Assisi and asking God to give you are heart open to serve by praying the Peace Prayer of St. Francis!

Catholic Institutions Commit to Action on College Opportunity

The Obama administration’s efforts to increase college opportunity has enticed the White House to ask colleges and universities to commit to helping more students enroll in and graduate from college. Several of our ACCU members have responded to the White House’s Commitment to Action on College Opportunity by pledging efforts in quite a few categories of commitment:

  • Completion Commitments 
    • Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities – Committed to producing an additional 11,500 graduates by 2020, the association will launch their project, “Stopping the Leak in the Educational Pipeline: Improving Matriculation and Graduation Rates at Franciscan Colleges and Universities.” With the help from this project, AFCU member institutions will join together and work closely with student success experts to develop systems, processes, and training to improve retention and graduation rates for all students, with a focus on at-risk students.
    • Loyola University Chicago – Loyola University Chicago has teamed up with Arrupe College in applying several strategies to help low-income, under-prepared and under-served students gain access to, succeed and graduate from a 4-year college or university. Together, they have commit to a total of 2,275 additional graduates by 2025.
    • St. Francis College – The Post–Prison College Opportunity Program at St. Francis College will promote civil rights by challenging the long-term consequences of mass incarceration by giving the formerly incarcerated the opportunity to earn a college degree. In addition, the program will provide tuition for accepted students through a combination of financial aid and scholarships.
  • K-16 Partnership Commitment
    • Trinity Washington University – In partnership with the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), Trinity Washington University commits to improving college readiness, retention and completion for DCPS students who enroll at Trinity. The partnership will emphasize persistence and success for DCPS graduates who wish to pursue majors that require strong math preparation and that are associated with high-wage/high-demand careers, as well as engage key D.C. college access providers in implementing persistence strategies.
  • STEM Commitment
    • Barry University – With the hopes of improving the retention and completion rates of low-income students, underrepresented minorities, and women in STEM majors, BU is working to develop a holistic engagement program designed to provide the outreach and opportunity structures that “fill the gap” for students who lack the pre-college academic preparation and developmental and personal experiences necessary for academic and professional success. As a Hispanic-serving institution whose 4-year graduation rate for the 2009 cohort was 45 percent, the university aims to increase that graduation rate by 10-15 percent by 2018 through interventions designed to foster community building, strong peer and faculty relationships, and a sense of academic self-efficacy.
    • Saint Martin’s University – In order to boost admittance and retention of women, low-income students, and underrepresented minority students in STEM degrees by between 5 and 10 percent, Saint Martin’s University will be launching a series of initiatives. Currently, the university is planning a series of monthly workshops for fifth through eighth graders, in conjunction with the Boys & Girls Club, designed to increase STEM admittance. Also, to increase retention, the university’s biology program is restructuring degree requirements, moving toward a core concept and competency model that includes an increase in active learning models and student research experience.
    • Trinity Washington University – With a strong track record of educating low income women of color in the Washington region, Trinity’s STEM initiative will include best practices such as cohort organization, special academic and co-curricular advising, and focused foundational courses taught by specialists who can provide individualized support. The university commits to increasing their STEM enrollments by 50 percent annually, improving their graduation rates for STEM majors from 35 percent to no less than 65 percent (with a reach goal of 75 percent) and seeking to improve first-to-second year retention from the current rate of 61 percent to no less than 80 percent for STEM cohorts, in order to meet the overall graduation rate goals.
  • Counseling Commitment
    • Loyola University Maryland – The School Counseling Program (SCP) at Loyola University Maryland is planning a four-prong approach to support increasing college and career readiness among urban youth in Baltimore City and the surrounding counties. The components of the university’s four-pronged approach include providing direct counseling services to un-served and under-served youth in urban schools to enhance their vocational identity, program rigor, and college readiness; and expanding the research of counseling faculty regarding vocational identity.