Mark Meyers


Dean of the College of Social Sciences, Health, and Education
Xavier University

 

Project Title:

Extending the Mission and Identity to Graduate Programs at Xavier University

Project Overview:

The project focused on the creation of more explicit expectations of mission and identity for our graduate students. This involved meeting with the faculty, staff, and students from each graduate program which determined current practices and the “gaps” in those practices when it came to Ignatian spirituality and our mission as a Jesuit Catholic Institution. Over the course of a year, programs developed methods to explicit create an expectation of Ignatian focused practice by graduate students and the means to measure if there was any measureable impact.

There was an obvious and absolute difference, in terms of mission and identity, between undergraduate and graduate programs in my college that simply could not be ignored.

Project Details:

1. Information was collected from faculty, staff, and students from every graduate program in the college, and then each separately developed their own plans for the application of the mission and identity focus to their programs.
2. The Gifts of our Ignatian Heritage were adopted college wide as an orienting tool for this work. The gifts are: Mission, Reflection, Discernment, Solidarity and Kinship, and Service Rooted in Justice and Love.
3. Each program distributed and explained the Gifts during program orientation.
4. Each program added specific questions related to the themes of the gifts to their exit and alumni survey documents.
5. Each program created assignments and assessments geared to the Gifts.

Indications of Success:

The best measures of success has been the creation of activities that have been successful, here are a few examples:
1. The School of Nursing has created an activity entitled “Cura-What?” in which graduate students read articles and then journal on their own expectations as a nurse and the treatment of the “whole” patient in a compassionate and ethical manner.
2. The Counseling Programs have created the Jesuit Heritage Grant Program. In this program, counselors who have finished their first year write essays explaining the impact of the Jesuit Heritage on themselves and their professional expectations. The winning essay is awarded a partial academic grant.
3. The School of Education added questions to the M.Ed comprehesive exam focused on the mission and our Ignatian Heritage and its connection to education profession.

Challenges:

1. Recreating this effort in other graduate programs, in some ways CSSHE graduate programs are “preaching to the choir.”
2. Providing sufficient expectations instead of opportunities for graduate students, particularly those that come to campus once a week.
3. Rewarding the faculty and staff sufficiently for promoting work such as this.