One of the most important powers of a university and a university center is to convene. The Center uses that power by positioning itself as what we think of as "connective tissue" - for the university and the wider community. By this we mean that we see our role as helping to bring the right partners to the table for a given project and working collaboratively with them to achieve a common goal. We believe that modeling collaboration for our students and engaging them in collaborative projects is a critical part of the any education but particularly a Jesuit education.
Like dialogue, we often think collaboration is easily achieved when in fact it is the most challenging aspect of every project. This is particularly true when you are dealing with participants from diverse sectors who have different goals and different ideas about how to achieve them. Collaboration requires that each of the partners give up some of their "turf" and commit to a process through which a common project emerges. For collaboration to work, good process is the key.
There are many ways to gauge the success of a project - the number of people who attend, the quality of the program, the amount of good publicity it brings to the university - but the most important gauge of success is in the relationships that we develop with our partners. Every project builds social capital and it is this social capital that is the key to achieving common goods for our community.
The Center partners on every project which it does. We have partnered with more than two dozen departments and programs as Xavier and close to 90 external partners locally, nationally and globally.