Holy Cross' Vice President for Mission Returns to Lead Mission Programs at Alma Mater

By Cristal Steuer, Senior Strategist, TVP Communications

Rev. William R. Campbell, S.J. (Photo by College of the Holy Cross)

Rev. William R. Campbell, S.J. (Photo by College of the Holy Cross)

Rev. William R. Campbell, S.J. ’87 was named vice president for mission at the College of the Holy Cross in the summer of 2014. Prior to re-joining the Holy Cross community, he was the president of Cheverus High School in Portland, Maine from 2008 to 2014.

Fr. Campbell is no stranger to the Holy Cross campus or to Worcester, MA. He graduated from the College in 1987 and served as assistant chaplain at Holy Cross from 2003-05 and 2007-08, as well as one year (2006-07) as interim principal at Nativity School of Worcester. In response to returning to the College, Fr. Campbell said: “When I considered the impact the College had in shaping my sense of who I am in the world; and when I admit that my current role allows me some shared responsibility for helping to shape the experience of today’s students and staff, I simply could not pass up the opportunity.”   

Fr. Campbell talks about the priorities of the mission office, becoming a priest, and shares his prediction for the winner of the Holy Cross/Boston University Turnpike Trophy basketball rivalry.

The College recently built the Thomas P. Joyce '59 Contemplative Center. Why is the Center important for students and how is the College using it to care for students, faculty, staff and alumni?

What the Center represents is at the core of our mission as a Catholic, Jesuit liberal arts college. It invites us to reflect on the meaningful questions of our lives. So, we have greatly expanded our retreat programming for all of our constituents (students, staff, faculty and alumni) in both range and depth. We are as limited in our use of this facility as we are in the use of our imaginations. I was secretly happy when I recently heard an administrative peer say that she could not get access to the Center for a reflective program she is planning for her division because the date was already booked. What a great problem to have!

Can you tell me about the new mission-related initiatives you have implemented on campus? 

One of the main reasons for building the Joyce Contemplative Center was to be able to offer new and more programming for alumni and affinity groups, as well as for students, faculty and staff. A reporter from The Boston Globe even took part in one of our new retreats, “Eat, Pray, Study.” Other initiatives include working with College Marketing and Communications and Information Technology Services (ITS) to launch a digital Advent Calendar last year, accessible to everyone from our homepage; working with academic affairs, we added a session on Jesuits in the arts and sciences to the syllabus for the annual Mission Seminar for new faculty and staff members; and partnering with human resources, we revised the Mission in Motion Wellness Challenge to include personal reflections and photographs by faculty and staff who have participated in the annual Faculty Pilgrimage to Ignatian sites in Spain and Rome. We are also working on many new initiatives for 2017, so please stay tuned.  

At what point in your life did you decide that you wanted to be a priest? 

My dad had two cousins who were diocesan priests, and we saw them often. So, thinking about becoming a priest was a given possibility in my family. But it wasn’t until I met the Jesuits while I was a student at Holy Cross that I understood the shape of my vocation. I didn’t know the vocabulary to use at the time, but I intuited something about Jesuit spirituality and the Jesuit charism that ignited my desire for priesthood. Yes, there were specific moments along the way when I would imagine what it could be like. I remember one moment a few months after I had graduated that was just so powerful I had to pursue it. I called up one of the Jesuits who had mentored me while I was a student at Holy Cross (the late Rev. Joseph LaBran, S.J.) and told him of my desire. His first words in reply were: “I knew we’d get you!”

As a student at Holy Cross, you participated in retreats. What is the biggest difference between the retreat program then and today?  

Actually, I only participated in one retreat when I was a student. I made the five-day silent version of the Spiritual Exercises during my freshman year. I’m embarrassed to admit that I don’t even know what other retreat options were available at the time! But I am grateful for the range of retreats students can choose from today and that we continue to offer our students multiple times each year, as we have for generations, the Spiritual Exercises.

What's the best part about your job? 

I love it when students, faculty and staff stop by my office unannounced just to say “Hi.” I wish I were better at stopping by their open doors!

If you could ask any past pope (or the current pope, Francis) one question, what would it be?  

“Pope Francis, if you could sit and have a drink with a declared Jesuit saint, which one would it be and why?” Is that two questions?

If you weren't a Jesuit priest and Vice President for Mission at Holy Cross, what would you be? 

I started a career in arts administration, which I left to join the Jesuits. I sometimes wonder if I would now be a famous Broadway producer had I stayed! I have always wanted to be involved in radio broadcasting, something I did a lot of while in high school and during college. I would probably be a host of NPR’s Morning Edition or All Things Considered.

Who will win the Turnpike Trophy men's basketball game on Feb. 25, Holy Cross or Boston University?

Holy Cross. Slam dunk!

Anything you would like to add, that I didn't ask?

You didn’t ask what my favorite color is. As a kid, long before I knew about Holy Cross, my favorite color was purple. No kidding.