Mission and Identity

3. A Jesuit Catholic Campus Culture

"At Xavier we affirm that 'diversity' is not a pretext for remaining in one's comfort zone, safe within one's unexamined assumptions. For us diversity means that all are welcome to the table and all must prepare to be challenged and transformed by the encounter with one another. We respond by opening contemplative spaces for genuine dialogue and critical inquiry across differences in our classrooms and work environments." (Seeking Integration and Wisdom, para. 34)

University Ministry and Liturgical Life

Because Bellarmine Chapel is in the unique position as both the on-campus chapel and a parish in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, a variety of programs and opportunities are available. Each Sunday during the academic year there are five Masses offered; three are parish Masses and two (4:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.) are student-oriented Masses organized by The Dorothy Day Center for Faith and Justice. Masses are also available three times a day during the week. In addition to worship opportunities, Bellarmine offers programs open to students as well as parishioners. These include the RCIA process, guest speakers and various service programs. Students may participate in the parish religious education program in the role of teachers and teacher aides.

In addition to liturgy and events provided by Bellarmine Chapel, there are many activities offered by the University:

  • Mass of the Holy Spirit at Xavier. Classes are suspended and offices closed for this September mid-day Mass and social marking the beginning of the academic year.
  • Baccalaureate Mass on the evening before Commencement for the graduating students and guests.
  • St. Francis Xavier Day, Dec. 3 actively involves Alpha Sigma Nu, the Jesuit Honor Society, in the Mass and Cincinnati Jesuit Community Open House.
  • Sacrament of Reconciliation Service for the campus community is offered twice during the academic year and upon request.
  • Monthly exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
  • Yearly Mass and dinner for retired faculty and staff in December.
  • A proposed Memorial Garden-conducive for quiet reflection and prayer to honor members of the campus community who have died.

The Dorothy Day Center for Faith and Justice provides pastoral care and spiritual companionship in addition to student companion groups that reflect on faith from a variety of perspectives. Like most Jesuit Catholic universities, Xavier offers a comprehensive retreat program and service opportunities for students of all faith traditions. The Center actively engages community partners, faculty and staff in supporting and participating in service.

In addition to its wide variety of options for Catholic students, the Center offers student organizations and activities specifically for Protestant, Muslim, Jewish and students of other faith traditions. It also offers programs for Xavier alumni through its Magis Society including evenings of reflection and alumni retreats.

Building a Culture Committed to Relationality and Responsibility

Beginning with Manresa New Student Orientation, the University helps to foster a culture for students that nurtures their actions as stewards for themselves, each other and the campus property through a number of supportive measures:

And for specific populations:

The process used to develop the student honor code is a remarkable example of the actualization of Xavier's self-care model. In Spring 2014, President Graham asked a group of students to create a statement that would reflect the University culture of honor and integrity. It resulted in The Student Commitment's message of tradition and inclusion. Students learn about it and its meaning through:

  • The Road to Xavier, an internal orientation portal where students can pledge their support online and watch "It's on Us" video as an example of students living the commitment.
  • Manresa Orientation for New Students, when first-year students receive a magnet in their packets with "See Something, Say Something" and sign the Commitment banners during a campus scavenger hunt activity. It is recited at the President's Welcome Convocation.
  • Goa, when first-year students discuss the Student Commitment and the concept of bystander intervention during their first meeting.
  • The Student Government Association, which this year has chosen to focus on its commitment to inclusivity. They are forming a student committee, tentatively named Variable X, to address initiatives and programs that help every Xavier student feel like they fully belong as a member of the community.
  • The Student Wellness Advocacy Group, which delivers the Bystander Intervention program, Live the Commitment, addressing community expectations in the context of the Student Commitment. This program has been delivered several times since the start of the Spring semester, and three additional events are scheduled for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
  • Justice Hall, where a three-story banner of the Commitment hangs over the entrance of the hall, home to sophomore residents and the campus dining facility.
  • Commencement, when undergraduate students recite the Commitment at graduation.


The recently adopted strategic plan for Xavier Athletics, titled "MAGIS," incorporates the Jesuit ideal of promoting continuous growth and improvement. Similarly, Xavier Athletics must always strive for continuous growth and improvement, to do more and do better, for our student-athletes, for the University, for our alumni, for our community and for the Jesuit tradition that we represent. Examples of Xavier Athletics and Xavier's Jesuit values include:

  • Xavier's nearly 300 student-athletes, covering all 18 sports, combined for nearly 2,000 hours of volunteer service in the Cincinnati area last year.
  • Xavier Athletics partnered with Mount St. Joseph University to hold MSJ's women's basketball game that supported Lauren Hill, the MSJ player with an inoperable brain tumor. More recently, Xavier and MSJ have combined efforts to launch the Lauren Hill Tipoff Classic, a long-term basketball partnership that will raise money and awareness for pediatric brain cancer research.
  • Sr. Rose Ann Fleming, founder of the Student-Athlete Academic Support Services Program, serves as the Faculty Athletic Representative for Xavier Athletics. Sr. Fleming's nearly three decades of service to Xavier student-athletes has helped 96 men's basketball players to graduate, the longest such streak in NCAA Division 1 basketball.
  • The Xavier's men's basketball team folded service and mission into its international trip to Brazil last year. The team staged youth clinics and volunteered in a Rio de Janeiro favela.
  • At least 100 student-athletes and roughly a dozen coaches and staff are active in Xavier's Athletes-in-Action faith-based initiatives. This includes weekly Bible studies and various pre-game chapels.
  • Xavier originated and led student-athlete and student efforts around a "Day of Service" in New York at the Big East Tournament.
  • The Xavier's women's basketball team conducts a youth day in conjunction with its larger literacy initiative and reading program, touching nearly 2,500 Cincinnati children.
  • As part of the overall renovation of the Cintas Center, the initial areas of priority are the spaces that focus on the development of our student-athletes, such as a new student-athlete academic center that opened this summer.
  • Lighting The Way For Student Athletes is a publication for student athletes for reflection on Ignatian values.
  • A Jesuit holds the position of "Chaplain of Athletics".

Community Characterized by Diversity of Thought

Within the campus community, there is an atmosphere of respect for 15+ faith and cultural traditions that are represented. The University focuses on religious diversity in a variety of ways:

  • Inclusion of ordained ministers of faith traditions other than Catholic during Blessing Rite at the conclusion of the annual Mass of the Holy Spirit along with the inclusion of individuals of various cultures and traditions as readers, leaders of prayer and song, etc., as well as various texts for community worship services.
  • The Interfaith Chapel in Husman Residence Hall is available on campus and is accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to everyone on campus.
  • Within the Catholic community, Life After Sunday, a student group with a Jesuit moderator, is available for individuals who are more comfortable with traditional Catholic expressions of faith.

Public conferences are offered through the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue. Examples of recent programs co-sponsored by the center include:

  • Michael Sandel, Harvard University: What is the Right Thing to Do?
  • Food For All: Rev. David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World.
  • The Cooperative Economy: A Panel on How Cooperatives Are Shaping The New Economy.
  • Neighborhood Economics Conference 2015-From the producers of SOCAP, Social Capital Markets.

A protestant minister, the Rev. Abby King Kaiser, serves as the Ecumenical and Multifaith Director in the Dorothy Day for Center Faith and Justice. For the past two year, she has led Common Ground, an ecumenical protestant church service, on Sundays at 8:00 p.m. The Ecumenical Ministry Team, Common Ground's student leaders, assist in the worship.

Faculty, staff and administrators of all faith traditions, and those of no faith tradition, are invited to take part in all of the programs offered by the Center for Mission and Identity.

A University-Wide Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Summary was compiled in September 2015.

Vocational Discernment

Vocational Discernment Experiences: The Center for Faith and Justice offers an array of experiences aimed at providing students practical discernment tools as they finish their time at Xavier and begin thinking about promoting good in their personal lives and the world around them and their choice of careers and lifestyles after graduation. These experiences are co-created through collaboration between the CFJ and particular academic departments or programs such as the Philosophy, Politics and the Public Honors program, Occupational Therapy and Nursing.

Office of Career Development: A variety of sessions and programs that include outside speakers are offered to help students determine their future careers and goals. Student employment may be matched with pre-professional/vocational interests.

Discussion Group for Religious Vocations: Students interested in discerning a vocation to religious life have access to a discussion group, led by members of the Jesuit community at Xavier, in collaboration with the Center for Faith and Justice.

Goa: The new first-year seminar program includes sessions where students are encouraged to think about their futures and career possibilities. Through presentations and small group meetings, students initially engage in discussions on what they want to accomplish at Xavier. They move forward to consider and reflect on their vocation in terms of their desires, talents and aspirations to contribute to the world. They are encouraged to create, in a general way, their own individual plan for the years to come after graduation.

Student Athletes and Mission: The Center for Faith and Justice and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion offer retreat experiences for student-athletes focused on developing self-awareness and spirituality, as well as improving sense of community amongst teams. Highlights include a 24-hour retreat for the men's basketball team, an evening of reflection for the women's swimming team, and a day retreat offered to all athletes in conjunction with the Student Athlete Advisory Council.

Vocations to the Society of Jesus and Local Church: In the past several years, the Xavier community has had at least seven vocations to the priesthood including: Taylor Fulkerson, Nick Albin, Julio Minsal-Ruiz, Jeffrey Dorr, Eric Sundrup, who entered the Society of Jesus shortly after graduating from Xavier, and Eric Roush, a former Xavier admissions counselor and Xavier MA Theology graduate who entered the seminary and was ordained a transitional deacon for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in 2015.

Church Calendar/Academic Calendar

A Multifaith Calendar of Religious Holy Days is available online at the Center for Mission and Identity Jesuit Resource. The calendar highlights work-restricted holy days so that faculty and staff supervisors may affirm and support the faiths of all members of the Xavier community. The University has a Religious Accommodation Policy that students are made aware of through the Student Handbook.

Yearly campus events include:

  • Mass of the Holy Spirit-Classes are suspended and University offices closed.
  • Kristallnacht-Night of the Broken Glass-is remembered on Nov. 9.
  • St. Francis Xavier Day Mass is held on Dec. 3.
  • Advent Lessons and Carols.
  • Advent Prayer Service at the Board of Trustees' December meeting.
  • "A Xavier Xmas" is an annual celebration for grade-schoolers.
  • "Holi," the Hindu Festival of Colors celebrating spring, is held in March.
  • Shabbat Dinner, a traditional Sabbath meal, is held in December and May.
  • Renovated classroom buildings and other structures are blessed, most recently Alter Hall.
  • Baccalaureate Mass is held for graduating seniors.
  • Prayer services and ceremonies are held as the need arises, such as recognitions, deaths, world crises, etc.

A Jesuit, Br. Darrell Burns, S.J., is a member of the University Calendar Committee.

During the Lenten and Advent seasons, Mr. Joe Shadle, Director of the Center for Mission and Identity, hosts a popular 'Bible Study for Faculty and Staff' for beginners and avid readers alike.

Related, Xavier currently has two of the seven volumes (Pentateuch and Gospels and Acts) of the Saint James Bible on display in the Conaton Learning Commons foyer. In three years, the full collection will be on exhibited. In September, 2015, Xavier participated in the national Saint John's Bible "Illuminating the Mission: 7 Days • 7 Pages" program that honored Pope Francis' visit to the United States. Participants were asked to turn to a specific page of their Bible each day for seven days. Xavier participants in the page-turning included graduate and undergraduate students.


Alumni Relations has recently created the ALL FOR ONE and ONE FOR ALL program focusing on a Community for Life theme for students and alumni. Specific examples include:

  • Naples Mass and Dinner.
  • 1831 Society Mass and Dinner to recognize and thank Annual Fund donors.
  • Xavier on the Road events in conjunction with Academics, Admission, Athletics, Career Development and University Relations.
  • Communion Sunday Mass at all Alumni Chapters.
  • Alumni and Friends Mass celebrated at Big East Basketball Tournament in New York.
  • Alumni and Student Habitat for Humanity service projects.
  • Community Action Day with students and alumni in collaboration with the Center for Faith and Justice.
  • Collaborating with Career Development to promote Hire-A-Muskie to alumni in order to recruit mentors and internship opportunities for students.
  • Enrollment Ambassador program to assist Admissions with recruiting prospective students.
  • Student send-off in every alumni chapter to foster family atmosphere.
  • Electronic newsletters sent to alumni and friends with updates and happenings.
  • Fresh communications through use of alumni website.
  • Reunion Weekend celebrating all class years with emphasis on 25th and 50th reunion years.
  • Xavier magazine published two times per year.

Brand and University Communications

The recently developed Marketing and Branding platform highlights four main brand pillars which serve as the foundation for all university communications, especially those directed to prospective students, alumni, the community and more. The four brand pillars for Xavier University include:

  • Jesuit ethics and values
  • Personal attention
  • The community of X
  • Successful student outcomes

The pillar of Jesuit ethics and values helps to differentiate the Xavier brand from many other colleges and universities. While plenty of faith-based institutions exist, the opportunity to leverage the Jesuit philosophy is something that is recognized as both a successful educational enterprise, but also one rooted in faith, service and ministry. Some examples of branding and communications with a Jesuit focus include:

These are just some examples in which Xavier's Jesuit mission and identity are shared with Xavier constituents. From admission presentations to literature and flyers, websites and videos, Xavier's Jesuit identity plays out as a key theme at many points in the communications and marketing cycles.

Other avenues exist that might not be typical as well. For instance, in late September and in anticipation for the visit from Pope Francis, the City of Cincinnati and the Mayor proclaimed the week as Jesuit Education Week throughout the city highlighting Xavier and St. Xavier High School's community connections and Jesuit philosophy, a certain highlight for each institution. During that same time frame, Xavier marketing professionals worked with the AJCU and the other 27 Jesuit colleges and universities to promote the Pope's visit and the spirit of Jesuit education throughout the country.


Xavier regularly assesses the understanding of mission by students, alumni, faculty and staff. In fact, Xavier was a recipient of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities' first cohort to receive a 'small research grant' for the project "Assessing the Understanding of Mission among Faculty, Staff and Administrators in Jesuit Catholic Institutions" which involved nine other Jesuit universities. This work has been used and adapted beyond Jesuit circles, such as by the Director of Research of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church and, most recently, DeSales University.

External Recognition

Xavier is one of 15 schools nationwide awarded a $100,000 grant in 2012 from the American Council on Education and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for its innovative work in preparing faculty for the later stages of their careers and for retirement through programs such as The Second Fifty, Taking Time to Reflect/An Ignatian Pilgrimage, and the Faculty Learning Community and Fellowship on Legacy Projects. In selecting Xavier, the American Council on Education was impressed with the integration of institutional mission into efforts that support faculty. Programs were commended for enacting the value of cura personalis integral to its Jesuit mission. Read a description of Xavier's array of offerings in Working Within Your Institutional Mission, by Mary Kochlefl, PhD, Executive Director for Academic Organizational Development and Online Learning in Grant Services, in Faculty Retirement: Best Practices for Navigating the Transition (2015).