Mission and Identity

2. An Academic Life that Reflects the Catholic Jesuit Mission

"We affirm that the liberal arts remain integral to the university's Mission and the Jesuit, humanist core curriculum, not in spite of but precisely because of the present environment. The transcendent questions posed by the liberal arts must be integrated within every discipline at the university. Not content merely to further those skills that will aid students in their quest to earn a living, a Jesuit education seeks to ensure that students' lives will be, ultimately, truly worth living. At the same time, we value and support specialization and professionalization-not for their own sake, but to the extent that they prepare our students to meet today's challenges with disciplinary expertise, creativity, and imagination." (Seeking Integration and Wisdom, para. 26)

The Academic Vision and Values Statements

"Xavier University, a comprehensive university in the Jesuit tradition, excels at educating students intellectually, morally and spiritually by challenging them to become men and women of integrity and compassion. We inspire one another to achieve our full potential and to engage in society as competent, thoughtful, and responsible global citizens. We value academic rigor, research, reflection, and the integration of knowledge and action that works toward the betterment of society.

Xavier is committed to:

Academic Excellence -A rigorous, analytical and reflective learning community led by accomplished faculty engaged in creative scholarly activity.
Ignatian tradition -Education of the whole person intellectually, morally and spiritually through lives of solidarity and service, with sensitivity to issues of social and environmental justice.
Integrity -A climate of academic freedom, professionalism, collegiality, and mutual respect throughout a diverse University community operating according to our principles of shared governance."

Both were accepted by the faculty in Spring 2011.

Core Curriculum

The University's distinctive integration of Jesuit, Catholic and liberal arts traditions is best communicated to its undergraduates through the newly revised Core Curriculum. The curricular revisions align the Student Learning Objectives and Goals with the Ignatian core values of Magis, Reflection, Discernment, Whole Person, Solidarity and Kinship, and Service Rooted in Justice and Love.

All undergraduate students beginning in the fall of 2015 will be engaged in:

First-Year Seminar, which provides entering students with an opportunity to work with faculty to explore important and challenging issues in a small classroom setting. Seminar topics cover a wide range of issues, such as: "Art and Transcendence," "Passion in Action," "God on Trial," "Choosing in Everyday Life," "Inequality," The Latino Community as Story," "Socrates Meets Jesus," Human Rights," "Forever War," "Black Literature and Faith," and "Biodiversity and the Greater Good."

Goa (CORE 101), a zero-credit hour course that meets every other week throughout the year helping students successfully navigate through university life. Students are challenged to answer two important questions:

  • Who am I in this new environment?
  • What do I want to accomplish at Xavier?

Of the more than 10 focus areas in the first year, some topics include:

  • How decisions can impact individuals and the community
  • Living the Jesuit values
  • Identifying next steps for personal and career development
  • Individual values and the greater community

The Ethics/Religion and Society sequence of courses provides a basis for critical reflection on ethical and religious questions of social significance from the perspective of multiple disciplines with unique methods. In 2014-2015, the ERS provided a series of 13 seminars on the topic, Is there a Jesuit Ethics?, while this year's seminar theme is Imagining the Good: Community, Equality, Environment. The excellence of this focus has received recognition from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the McGregor Fund and the John Templeton Foundation.

See the Core Overview and Video Introduction to the Core, as well as:

The Vision for the Core

Parts Around and Within the Core Explained

Core Classes Explained for Students

First-Year Structure Explained to Students

Faculty Support and Policies in Teaching, Research and Service

Faculty-specific professional development on Jesuit education and Ignatian pedagogy is offered in the Ruth and Robert Conway Institute for Jesuit Education housed within the Center for Mission and Identity. Peer assistance is offered by a Director of Faculty Programs in Mission and Identity, a three-year, half-time position. Endowed noteworthy opportunities offered through the Conway Institute include:

  • The Ignatian Mentoring Program for Faculty, originally supported with a grant from the Lilly Fellows Program in the Humanities and Arts, and now by the Cincinnati Jesuit Community, has the goal of "affirming excellence in teaching, scholarship and mission consciousness." The pedagogy of the early career participants is available in book form: Teaching to The Mission and web-based resource format by discipline. The effectiveness of the program led to two additional grants from Lilly for Taking Time to Think: Ignatian Principles at Work (2009) and the Mission Academy (2012).
  • The Conway Faculty Fellowship, offered in collaboration with the CTE Faculty Fellows program, offers a half-year of released time from teaching responsibilities to advance a project that "makes a significant mission-related impact on the educational endeavor at Xavier and beyond." Similarly, a Jesuit Fellowship is offered through Xavier's Faculty Development Committee and Office of the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs for scholarly work on mission-relevant issues.

The Xavier philosophy of engaging faculty in mission includes (read "":

  • Offering a variety of opportunities throughout the career span.
  • Peer mentoring.
  • A value on the physical place and space (with Xavier's Center for Mission and Identity receiving high visibility being in the center of campus and with two conference rooms for various gatherings).

The Faculty Handbook clearly outlines University policies. For details see the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities UPDATE article.

Centers and Institutes

Other campus centers and institutes which animate the University's Jesuit identity include the:

Other Catholic Initiatives

  • Catholicism and Culture is a minor composed of courses on Catholicism and its various embodiments throughout time and the world.
  • Peace Studies is a minor with courses on peace and conflict, social justice and ecological sustainability.
  • The Center for Catholic Education assists regional Catholic schools in the transmission of the faith and the development of Catholic education, including a Master of Education Degree Program for Catholic school educators.
  • The Annual Pope Francis Presentation is held in March to honor the anniversary of his election and is open to the regional community.
  • Celebrating its 20th anniversary this summer 2016, the academic study abroad programs in Rome engage students in coursework that places heavy emphasis on Christian sites and their history, including attendance at a Papal Blessing and/or Audience, visiting the St. Peter's Basilica/Vatican and other of the holiest places in the Catholic world. In addition, they visit the Gesu, the Mother Church of the Society of Jesus, and St. Ignatius Loyola's apartment.

Professional Schools and Graduate Programs

Graduate enrollment at Xavier in 2015-2016 is 1,713 students:

  • 1,173-College of Professional Sciences
  • 498-Williams College of Business
  • 42-College of Arts and Sciences

Graduate education at Xavier aims to create mastery over a specific subject matter and/or area of practice. Consequently, integrating Xavier's Jesuit Catholic mission into its graduate programs occurs within the specific context of the program focus and in ways that are appropriate to the field of study. This integration of the mission within specific graduate disciplines is accomplished at both the college/departmental level as well as the individual course level. At Xavier, this mission integration manifests itself in several broad themes.

Faculty recruitment, hiring and training: Because Xavier does not have a graduate faculty-faculty members may teach both undergraduate and graduate courses-we are able to take a consistent approach in our faculty hiring practices. In short, we hire for a fit to the mission as articulated in our mission and vision statements, as well as individual program and department mission statements. The majority of new faculty members participate in our Manresa Program for New Faculty and Staff where they learn about our Jesuit history and mission.

Explicit inclusion of Jesuit mission-related content: Many programs have built into their student experiences explicit opportunities to introduce and discuss Jesuit mission-related themes such as Reflection, Discernment, Social Justice, Service Rooted in Justice and Love, Solidarity and Kinship, and Magis. Mission integration is led by faculty in a variety of ways: in a specific program context; with materials from the Center for Mission and Identity; facilitated by staff in the Center for Mission and Identity. Mission-related integration is delivered by:

  • A specific student orientation module, either stand-alone or distributed within a single introductory course or across several courses.
  • A specific course, such as a capstone course, designed to address curricular elements through the lens of our Jesuit mission.
  • Modules or content distributed across the entire curriculum.
  • Program concentration areas that directly relate to our Jesuit mission.
  • Mission-related service learning opportunities embedded within internships and practicums, service opportunities in community that put their skills into practice, explicitly mission-related travel opportunities nationally and abroad.

Implicit inclusion of Jesuit mission-related content: Many of our programs involve subject areas that are inherently mission-centric-Nursing, Counseling, Psychology, Criminal Justice and Theology, for example. Rather than rely on this "built-in" mission relationship, nearly all of these programs intentionally infuse Jesuit language, pedagogy and practice into their entire curriculum. This manifests itself in many ways. A few examples are given below with specific program examples given in brackets:

  • Reflection requirements built into required practicum and internships. [MS in Counseling students complete reflective assignments in every course in the program reasoning that the most effective and ethical practitioners are those who consistently reflect in an effort to know and understand themselves as well as those around them.]
  • Program service and practicum requirements that emphasize social justice and solidarity. [The Occupational Therapy program integrates service and learning throughout the program including an international experience in Guatemala to serve and learn from the local population.]
  • The incorporation of Jesuit writing, philosophy, history and scholarship as a focus for experiential practices. [MS in Nursing-The NURS 501 course includes an article, "Themes of Higher Education," by Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., and the handbook, "Lighting the Way" (see below), and requires the students to write a scholarly paper discussing how the Jesuit educational themes in these two sources will impact/can be integrated into their own philosophy of nursing.]
  • The design of the program electives and concentrations to align with Jesuit social concerns. [Faculty intentionally developed the Doctor of Nursing Practice curriculum with Jesuit principles integrated into every course in the belief that these principles were what made Xavier's DNP program special.]

Xavier produces Lighting the Way For Graduate Students, a print resource used on campus and beyond. For instance, 800 copies have been ordered by Jesuit universities in the past year. The email below was received by a Xavier admissions administrator from her colleague at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, a graduate school of Santa Clara University, following a graduate admissions conference: "Hi all, I wanted to share a very simple resource in response to the cracker barrel question, 'How do we impart Ignatian values within a (short) graduate program?' This resource is small, yet useful, within the context of a much broader Ignatian vision-it's a small pamphlet, 'Incorporating Jesuit Values as a Graduate Student.' We include it in our admit packages when a student has applied and did not attend a Jesuit undergrad. You can order it (along with other fun Jesuit things!) here: https://www.xavier.edu/jesuitresource/ignatian-resources/lighting-the-way."

College Mission Statements

Xavier's three colleges affirm the University's Jesuit Catholic tradition in their mission Statements:

The College of Arts and Sciences challenges students to develop an integrated understanding of humanity, the world, and God by pursuing the questions raised in Xavier's core and departmental curricula.

  • Do human beings have an enduring nature?
  • How have we conceived of the good and tried to implement it over the course of history?
  • Is there a best form of government or society?
  • How do we communicate in words, numbers, melodies, and images?
  • Can we grasp the structure of reality through mathematics, theory, and experiment?
  • Is there a God who cares for us, and how have human beings responded to God's love?

Through such core questions and through its programs of study in the liberal arts, the College aspires to liberate students by enabling them to broaden their minds, to seek the truth, and to meet the challenges of their time.

The Williams College of Business educates students of business, enabling them to improve organizations and society, consistent with the Jesuit tradition.

The College of Professional Sciences prepares undergraduate and graduate students in the Catholic Jesuit tradition intellectually, morally, and spiritually for careers and professions of service by:

  • Challenging students to strive for academic excellence and life-long learning,
  • Providing applied experiences grounded in theoretical foundations,
  • Promoting collaboration and community partnerships,
  • Incorporating research, scholarship, and innovation,
  • Integrating ethical behavior and a respect for individual differences and diversity.

The programs in the College of Professional Sciences have a special focus on society in the areas of education, health, community services, and more. The College houses a wide variety of departments that include undergraduate programs, Master's degree programs and Doctoral programs in psychology, nursing and educational leadership.


External Recognition

With the support of the President, Xavier University's Ethics/Religion and Society program, along with the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue and the Eigel Center for Community-Engaged Learning are hosting a Town Hall meeting on Feb. 2, 2016, to promote reflection on where we stand 15 years after the Cincinnati riots, as well as what the future might hold for our communities. As part of the E/RS series, Imagining the Good: Community, Equality, Environment, the Town Hall meeting is an interactive panel session to encourage the panelists and audience to engage each other in a reflective dialogue and discussion. In preparation, there will be two lead-up sessions: On Jan. 20, Fr Graham SJ will outline the historical background of the "riots," and on Jan. 26, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Dlott will address the Collaborative Agreement between the city, police and community. After the Town Hall, on March 1, is a musical event featuring a composition about the 2001riots by Dr. Kaleel Skeirik, of the Department of Music, and lyrics by Dr. Tyrone Williams, of the Department of English.