Academic Day

Roger Fortin summarizes his remarks. | November 15, 2007

The final major pieces of the University’s Strategic plan are Xavier Square on the East Campus and the James E. Hoff Academic Quadrangle. As we continue to solidify relations with Corporex, a local developer for Xavier Square, plans call for the completion of students’ apartments in the fall of 2009 and opening of a recreation center at the beginning of the spring semester in 2010. There should also be retail shops during the 2009-10 academic year. Moreover, suite hotel is also in the plan. The Xavier bookstore will be moved to Xavier Square, thus freeing up the Gallagher Student Center for more student activities.

Regarding the Academic Quad, plans call for the Williams College of Business to move to the new building by the fall of 2010, thus freeing up Hailstones Hall for academic departments and programs. I also know that President Graham and the trustees are exploring the possibility of beginning construction of the Learning Commons at about the same time as the new business building. They would love to accelerate the timetable so that both constructions would go on simultaneously. We should know before the end of the semester if both projects will proceed at the same time.

In terms of the financial plan, during the spring semester and summer of 2007 Xavier’s strategic financial planning task force, chaired by Dr. Richard Hirte and me, developed a five-year strategic business plan. Approved by the president and the executive committee of the board of trustees, this plan projects sufficient revenue during the next five years to enable the University to manage its renewal and replacement, technology, faculty quality salary improvement toward the 80th percentile, long-term debt, and Hoff Academic Quadrangle and Xavier Square operating costs in a fiscally sound manner. Projecting increased undergraduate and graduate enrollment, competitive tuition pricing policies, and operational efficiencies and cost containment, the plan serves as the foundation and guide to the annual budget committee process.

As you know, the theme of this year’s Academic Day Program focused on Xavier’s Catholic and Jesuit identity. I would like to share with you a few thoughts I have on the subject as well as on other related matters. By continuing to educate to its mission the University asserts that specialized learning is not enough. As you prepare students for specific majors and careers, Xavier’s mission affirms the belief that the most practical and valuable education is one that touches students directly and deeply, that helps characterize them at their finest as human beings. As alluded to yesterday, that is the essence of the University’s core curriculum, Xavier’s distinctive academic expression of its Jesuit identity. In addition to helping students grow intellectually, develop useful skills apply creative solutions to problems, understand and appreciate ambiguity, and bring reason and faith into meaningful dialogue with one another, the core, almost exclusively embedded in the College of Arts and Sciences, enriches students’ pursuits of academic excellence in specific majors, whether these majors are in the Arts and Sciences; College of Social Sciences, Health, and Education; or the Williams College of Business. Moreover, by being the best intellectual community that it can be, the University provides a unique service to the Church and to society, namely to its neighboring communities, the metropolitan area, and the broader world. While exercising academic freedom to the fullest, Xavier makes it possible for the variant lines of Catholic tradition and thought to intersect with all forms of human culture. Its vision of social justice is rooted in the scriptures, the Ignatian tradition, and in humanity.

As a consequence, Xavier continues to strengthen the connection between religious faith, core Jesuit ideals, and learning. Through its mission-oriented Manresa programs, it introduces new administrators, faculty, and staff to the Jesuit ethos of the institution. There are a number of units and programs that affirm Xavier’s Catholic and Jesuit values. Among these are academic departments, campus ministry, Peace and Justice programs, Ignatian programs, academic service learning semesters, community engagement, study abroad programs, the Brueggeman center for dialogue, the ethics/religion and society program, the center for business ethics and Social Responsibility, Jesuit fellowship program, gender and diversity studies, Academic Day, Catholicism and culture minor, and the Ann Buenger Catholic
Speaker Series. No one thing affirms the University’s Catholic and Jesuit identity. Years ago people thought that the theology department, or the presence of Jesuits on campus, or campus ministry did that. In my judgment, and based on what I heard yesterday, it is a combination of activities and people.

While the place of the faculty in the life of the University is of primary importance, the role of other professionals and staff is essential. For Xavier to continue to be true to its heritage it must never lose sight of what fundamentally is at its heart, namely "a community of inquiry grounded in the Catholic and Jesuit tradition dedicated to engaging and forming students intellectually, morally, and spiritually, with rigor and compassion, toward lives of solidarity, service, and success." The mission is entrusted in all of us. As the professionals in the provost learning area, namely in academic affairs, community engagement, information resources, mission and identity, and student life and leadership, continue to collaborate to achieve common goals, the University’s integrated learning environment is further enriched. To continue, click here.