Assessing the Understanding of Mission among Faculty, Staff and Administrators in Jesuit Catholic Institutions

Supported by a 2013 grant from the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities to Susana Luzuriaga, Debra Mooney, and Joe Shadle, Xavier University.

Introduction and Executive Summary

        Faculty, staff and administrators are at the heart of higher education institutions, and for Catholic Colleges and Universities, they also embody the essence of what makes them Catholic. Whether with their everyday interactions with students, or with the indirect activities and decisions, they build and influence the future of their organizations, as well as the future of their students. It is easy to suggest then, that the understanding and practice of the mission of every individual in an institution is, therefore, one of the key objectives at Catholic Colleges and Universities.

        In an effort to assess the experience of mission by faculty, staff, and administrators at Catholic Institutions, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities sponsored a project proposed by Xavier University. The study consisted of a survey, designed to measure the extent to which the experience at their institution has contributed to faculty, staff, and administrators' understanding and development of Catholic mission related values. The study zoomed in on Jesuit Catholic institutions because about a decade ago this group of universities had previously agreed upon a set of 13 questions that suitably captured the intention of their mission statements. These 13 questions have been used often to assess students and alumni's understanding of mission. A total of 10 institutions administered the survey to their employees independently during September of 2013, and sent their results to Xavier University.

        The results presented in this report will be and have the potential of being utilized in various formats: One, it serves as a sample population and reference for any Catholic institution that embraces the Catholic values mentioned in this study. Two, the results are being delivered to participant institutions with benchmarking data. Three, the results can be compared at each participating institution with assessment reports from previous surveys to students and alumni. And four, it serves as a baseline for an eventual re-administration (potentially within three to five years.)

        Probably the most salient finding of the study was that employees who self-identified with Catholic affiliation, as well as those who had worked at their institution 11 years or longer felt that their institutions had contributed more to their knowledge of mission than their respective counterparts (non-Catholic and
employees 5 years or less). Among the items included in the survey, "Understanding the mission of the institution" was the Jesuit value that respondents indicated had the highest contribution to their knowledge
at their institution, and "Actively working to further ecological justice and care for the environment" had the lowest contribution. The analysis of the open ended responses from all 10 participating institutions revealed that "everyday life on campus, including conversations with colleagues, interactions with Jesuit clergy, daily mass, and the nature of work itself" as well as the "many opportunities to attend conferences, seminars, retreats, and other programs" were the largest contributors to their understanding of the Jesuit Catholic mission, identity, and values. And finally, the most cited hope was that in the future, "Jesuit Catholic institutions would continue to offer an excellent education through Jesuit Catholic values and would grow its commitment to these values even more."

* The Comprehensive Report can be read here.