At its Fall 2013 meeting, LFP National Network Board awarded Small Grants to Belmont University, Duquesne University, Gordon College, Hope College, and Mount Saint Mary's University.
Belmont University “Courage and Renewal: Circle of Trust® approach Program” Director, Judy Skeen
During the 2014-15 academic year at Belmont University, those faculty who chose to engage in retreats and reading groups were focused upon the central question: How can educators create classroom experiences where integrity is chosen from inside out? Building upon the work of Parker J. Palmer who commends the deep inner work of integrity building in educators, faculty were invited to consider how all education and academic disciplines coalesce to enable the formation of citizens who are engaged, informed, courageous and generous.
Duquesne University, “Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability: Explorations at a Spiritan Catholic University”
Directors, Darlene Fozard Weaver and Maureen O’Brien
Duquesne University is the only university in the United States sponsored by the Catholic Congregation of the Holy Spirit. Through this grant, the coordinators aimed to enhance interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration on ecological and sustainability initiatives by faculty across the university; integrate Spiritan Catholic mission for justice, peace and the integrity of creation more fully into faculty’s research and teaching; and provide faculty with a collegial setting in which to develop a specific area of their research or teaching related to environmental stewardship or sustainability. The project coordinators recruited six faculty from three DU schools--Liberal Arts, Business Administration, and Natural and Environmental Sciences. These faculty met with the coordinators for six sessions during the 2014-15 academic year. During the sessions, participants learned from several guest presenters on topics related to Catholic and Spiritan priorities for environmental stewardship and sustainability, as well as some current university researchers’ work on relevant projects. Each participant also developed an individual project consistent with his/her specific research and teaching interests as well as the small grant goals, and presented progress reports at various points for peer feedback. Individual projects included development of undergraduate courses on ecology and psychology; initiatives to make the campus more bike-friendly and encourage commuting by bicycle; an article describing an undergraduate honors course on sustainability team-taught by nine faculty from a variety of disciplines; a mathematics research design to predict patterns of feral cat population growth in conjunction with a local neutering and release program; outreach to small businesses in the Pittsburgh region, to analyze their recovery and management issues as an aftermath of recent flooding and develop tools to support them in future natural disasters; and a journal article, short book and new teaching initiatives in an MBA program.
Gordon College, “Young Scholars and Vocation” Discussion Group
Director: Bruce G. Webb
Under the umbrella of the Center for Faith and Inquiry at Gordon College, this grant brought three groups of “already-not-yets” together into fellowship through periodic discussion sessions and dinners during 2014-15. These groups were: 1) New and younger faculty, who already have their PhD but are still figuring out how to think well about the relationship between their discipline and Christian faith; 2) Capable seniors or recent graduates of Gordon College (still in the area), who possess (or almost possess) a B.A. but remain uncertain of what steps to take next, although they are open to a vocation within church-related higher education; and 3) Christian scholars who are enrolled in or completing graduate programs in the greater Boston area, who feel called/open to a church-related academic vocation but are short on role models and conversation partners in their various academic departments. Our broad goal was to help “resource” the aforementioned groups with a vocabulary, with bibliographies and with friendships/professional networks as they discern and take the next steps on their respective academic/faith journeys. Over the course of this project, we had a total of 15 participants take part in 6 gatherings. Participants completed short reading assignments before our discussion, and dinner followed at a nearby restaurant.
Hope College, “Robust Ecumenism at Hope College”
Director: Steven Bouma-Prediger
With this grant the main goal was to create a community of faculty who would explore the meaning of robust ecumenism at Hope College. Robust ecumenism, as we defined it, is the attempt to describe what is needed at an academic institution for people to be willing to speak from their particular Christian perspective, ask for clarification when others’ ways of speaking need translation, and work at genuine understanding, which may include informed disagreement.
The grant has three phases. Phase one was academic year 2013-14 during which a core group of four faculty met regularly (usually twice a month) to read and discuss together a variety of books and essays. Some of the questions we discussed were: What does robust ecumenism actually look like? Have we embodied it at Hope? If so, how and under what circumstances? On what issues do we find general agreement? On what do we disagree and how do and how should we model respectful disagreement?
The academic year 2014-15 was phase two. During this year a group of 9 faculty met twice a month over lunch for about 90 minutes each time. In addition to reading books and essays, we also drafted working definitions of robust ecumenism and outlined both the challenges and the opportunities for robust ecumenism at Hope College. In addition to the bimonthly lunch meetings throughout the school year we organized and led a very successful one-day weekend retreat.
Phase 3 is academic year 2015-16 and the summer of 2016. During this year a number of the core faculty intend to work on research papers on the topic of robust ecumenism and we hope to plan a conference as part of Hope’s sesquicentennial celebration next summer.
Mount St. Mary’s University, “Gaudium et Spes, Then and Now: A Faculty Dialogue,” Director, Joshua Peter Hochschild
During the 2014-2015 academic year, faculty at Mount St. Mary’s University engaged in a series of discussions centered on the themes and the legacy of Gaudium et Spes fifty years after its promulgation. One of the most important documents of the Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes reflects the vision of St. Pope John XXIII for the Church to engage the modern world. Through four planned discussions, the faculty explored the influences of this and related Papal documents and their relevance to curriculum and teaching. Faculty were especially eager to explore these themes since our core curriculum, The Veritas Program, gives central attention to the Catholic vision of the human person and is intended to help prepare students for a life of responsibility in the modern world. Overall approximately a quarter of Mount faculty participated in the discussion series, supported by this LFP grant.
At its Fall 2012 meeting, the board awarded six small grants to Benedictine University, Bethel University, East Texas Baptist University, Westmont College, the University of St. Francis, and Villanova University.
Benedictine University - Benedictine Faculty Forum (BFF)
Benedictine University’s Small Grant Program consisted of a two-year program pairing senior and new faculty in a mentoring relationship, which began with the 2012-2013 academic year. The program was designed to build a supportive community at Benedictine University, provide professional development, and give time for faculty to reflect on individual goals and to consider “spirituality and contemplation as valuable tools in life.” The Benedictine Faculty Forum, centered in the Benedictine tradition, gave participants an opportunity to consider leadership roles at the university. The program continued for a third year beginning the fall 2014.
Bethel University - The Pietist Idea of a Christian College
Bethel University (St. Paul, MN) designed its Small Grant Program to explore what its pietist identity meant to its faculty. In June 2013 a group of current and former Bethel faculty held a two-day workshop on “The Pietist Idea of a Christian College,” discussing the history of Pietism and its implications for teaching, scholarship, mentoring, service, and life together at Bethel. Coming out of that workshop, most participants then spent the summer and fall writing chapters for The Pietist Vision of Christian Higher Education: Forming Whole and Holy Persons, edited by Christopher Gehrz and published in 2014.
East Texas Baptist University - Human Rights, Reconciliation and Restorative Justice: East Texas and the World
Starting in the spring of 2013, East Texas Baptist University began preparation for its yearlong Small Grants Program, Human Rights, Reconciliation and Restorative Justice: East Texas and the World, with a lecture series. This was followed by a yearlong schedule of events, from lectures, to roundtables and chapel events that brought the community, local Baptist churches, and East Texas Baptist University together in dialogue about racial and economic justice in the classroom and beyond. The director reports a real impact from the program on the campus/community ties and the classroom.
University of St. Francis - USF San Damiano Scholars
At a time when the presence of Franciscan Sisters at the University of St. Francis declines, the university sought with its Small Grant Program to enliven its connection to the Catholic and Franciscan identity and connect to other Franciscan institutions sharing a common mission by revising its San Damiano Scholars program. With the Lilly Small Grants program, the University of St. Francis with a core group of ten to twelve faculty and administrators have now broadened the impact of the San Damiano Scholars, who are “are called to support and lead” the effort to enliven the Catholic mission and Franciscan identity on the campus of the University of St. Francis. One way the directors of this Small Grants Program wished to strengthen the Franciscan identity of the campus was to encourage more faculty to participate in the Association of Franciscan Colleges and University Franciscan pilgrimage to Assisi and to sharing the fruits of the experience. To help accomplish this goal, the Lilly Small Grant funded two faculty members’ pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome. Those who participated in the pilgrimage returned to campus and hosted a forum and led discussions related to their experiences and the Franciscan mission. As a result of the program, Franciscan spirit is more tangible on campus, stimulating conversation around the campus’ Catholic, Franciscan identity. By participating in the San Damiano Scholars and the AFCU pilgrimage, the University of St. Francis participates in collaborative efforts with other Franciscan colleges and universities, which further develops the Catholic and Franciscan identity on campus.
Villanova – Faculty Dialogue Luncheon
Villanova University’s Faculty Dialogue Luncheon began with the 2013-2014 academic year and continues into 2014-2015. Participants gathered eight times throughout the course of the 2013-2014 academic year around one of two themes: Exploring our Faith and Teaching as a Vocation. The luncheons brought together diverse populations across the campus, but also each lunch drew together people from similar points in their careers at Villanova. For example, one included Deans of colleges while another luncheon was for newer faculty. The lunches also gave faculty an opportunity to participate and build community in ways that they had not had at Villanova.
Westmont College – Faith-Learning Faculty Roundtable
Westmont College’s Faith-Learning Faculty Roundtable was designed to survey a representative sample of students to determine the extent of understanding and incorporation of the institutions mission. Faculty roundtables, then, studied and discussed the findings of the survey. These roundtable meetings helped faculty to identify, discuss, address, and assess recurrent issues and deficiencies in student faith learning.
At its Spring 2011 meeting, the board awarded eight small grants to:
Azusa Pacific University, “Creating a Sustainable Faith Integration training Program for Adjunct Faculty at APU”
Hope College, “Cultivating Hope and Other Virtues”
Loyola Marymount University, "Faculty Colloquium on Catholic Mission and Identity"
St. Olaf College, “Faculty Life at St. Olaf College: More Than Livelihood”
Saint Xavier University, "Mercy Book Club"
Thiel College, “Orientation to Lutheran Higher Education at Thiel College”
Whitworth University, “Growing the Next Generation of Christian Intellectuals”
Xavier University (Cincinnati), "Xavier Mission Academy"
Azusa Pacific University developed its small grant to help incorporate its large adjunct faculty population into the mission of the school. While all incoming full-time faculty take “a six-session ‘Foundations of Faith Integration’ training, with numerous training, presentations, and seminars offered for further growth in these skills,” part-time or adjunct faculty did not get this orientation. Through a series of training seminars across the university and at satellite locations beginning in 2011, the program was able to reach a sample number of adjunct faculty and provide them with tools to integrate the mission of the institution into their courses. APU also developed a durable on-line training program and plans for four cohorts of fifteen adjunct faculty to take this course in the 2012-2013 academic year. After evaluating this experience, the program will then be made available for all the over 800 adjunct faculty employed by APU. The University found that the program helped adjuncts engage more in the university, had a better understanding of how to engage the institution’s mission, and an awareness of APU’s Wesleyan/Holiness tradition.
The goal of Hope College’s small grant was to engage faculty over the course of an academic year in deeper conversation about its aims with regard to “academic and co-curricular programs in the liberal arts and in the context of the historic Christian faith.” To do this, the director of the program, Curtis Gruenler, conducted reading groups where faculty discussed first Christian Smith’s Souls in Transition and then James K.A. Smith’s Desiring the Kingdom. Coupled with these texts were shorter readings that were intended to probe first the classical and medieval formation of the tradition of virtues and then in second term the development of virtues within a modern higher education context. One of the more immediate positive outcomes was that the program brought new voices to this conversation. The meetings, which brought faculty together to talk over food, books, and with speakers, did much to foster community.
Throughout the 2011-2012 academic year, the Loyola Marymount University engaged in a “Lilly Seminar on Mission” in which members of the faculty and administration gathered and participated in directed dialogue designed to engage the Jesuit and Marymount traditions. (No administrators directly involved in tenure and promotion were involved in the seminars.) This program was designed to be as broadly interdisciplinary as possible in an attempt to bring together representatives from across the university to combat “silo-ing” on campus. The program continues into the 2012-2013 academic year and the faculty participants have appreciated the depth of information and preparedness of the presenters. They hope to expand the subject matter to social justice commitments during the fiftieth anniversary of Vatican II and an interfaith dialogue between other faith traditions, especially Judaism and Islam. They also hope to broaden interest in the University’s service projects. They also hope to continue to build this program by “seeking the support of other foundations” with the possibility of focusing “primarily on faculty at the advanced associate professor level and those who have mid-level leadership roles within the university.”
Throughout the fall of 2011, St. Olaf conducted its small grant program, “Faculty Life at St. Olaf: More than a Livelihood,” intended to foster conversation on the college’s identity and mission among faculty at all levels with a special emphasis on relating their individual experiences to work life at a church-related, liberal arts institution. The program began in September with a lecture given by Douglas and Rhonda Jacobsen based upon their book Religion Matters: Higher Education in the 21st Century. Following this lecture, two other events were held, which included a two-day faculty seminar and lunch meetings facilitated by participants of seminars. Since the faculty who participated in each of the events came from departments and disciplines across the campus, the program directors found that many valued and appreciated having a set time and place for focused discussions of this nature. Many commented that they appreciated the way the outside perspective provided by the Jacobsens made conversations easier. St. Olaf incorporated material from small grant program into its new faculty orientation as of August 2012 and the Provost and Assistant to the President for institutional diversity have moved towards encouraging new tenured faculty search committees to stress the importance of the college’s mission.
In the fall of 2011, Saint Xavier University began its Mercy Book Club, and as a result of this year-long program, the institution will continue to support it in the ensuing years. The first year’s meetings began with members of the School of Nursing who read various texts designed to knit this school outside the College of Arts and Sciences closer to the mission of the university. Participants read two books, Daniel Sulmasy’s Balm for Gilead: Meditations on Spirituality and the Healing Arts and Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Discussion of the texts were enhanced by lectures by Daniel Sulmasy and a viewing of film Miss Evers’ Boys. Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, is now one of the texts assigned to all in-coming students since 2012. As a result of the success of this program, the School of Education will take leadership of it in the next round of readings. The texts selected for the next year’s reading are: Parker Palmer’s The Courage to Teach and Brian Schultz’s Spectacular Things Happen Along the Way: Lessons from an Urban Classroom.
Whitworth University conducted its small grant, “Vocation of a Christian Public Intellectual,” in the 2011-2012 academic year. The program was designed to engage faculty and students from Whitworth University (a Protestant institution) and Gonzaga University (a Catholic institution) in an ecumenical conversation about what constitutes the Christian public intellectual. Faculty from both institutions met in the fall 2011 and developed a course for the spring 2012 based upon their discussions and readings. Nine students were invited to participate in a seminar drawing on Reinhold Niebuhr and Charles Taylor. The program and course will help as Whitworth University develop its Honor Program and contribute to the faculty’s understanding of themselves as Christian public intellectuals. Furthermore, faculty members at Whitworth University hope to tie the aims of the small grant program to Whitworth’s Weyerhaeuser Center for Christian Faith and Learning.
Xavier University’s recent efforts towards mission enhancement and mentoring are continued with the addition of this small grant, Xavier Mission Academy. David Burns, the director of the institution’s small grant, identified the need for further education among its faculty of all levels in the Jesuit mission. As the number of Jesuit-teachers declines at Xavier University, the need for lay Catholic and non-Catholic faculty to sustain and continue the Ignatian identity of faculty becomes more immediate. The director and his staff created the Xavier Mission Academy to address this need and help faculty, especially senior faculty, integrate mission into their classrooms. Participants in the Academy incorporated mission into one of their classes after a series of meetings with readings and discussions. Participants gave a poster presentation at Xavier’s Celebration of Excellence to explain the results of the program. The Academy enabled faculty who participated in this program to take time to think about larger ideas of the school’s mission and the purpose of a Catholic institution in general.