Jesuit Leadership Seminar Inspires Administrators, Faculty & Staff to Seek the Magis

By Deanna Howes Spiro, Director of Communications, AJCU
(202) 862-9893, dhowes@ajcunet.edu

2019 Jesuit Leadership Seminar Participants (Photo by Glenn Kaupert Photography)

2019 Jesuit Leadership Seminar Participants (Photo by Glenn Kaupert Photography)

Earlier this month, Loyola University Chicago hosted the sixteenth annual Jesuit Leadership Seminar (JLS) for faculty, staff and administrators from Jesuit colleges and universities. For the first time, two staff members from Loyola University Andalusia in Spain, participated in the Seminar, reflecting the program’s growth and impact both in the United States and abroad.

JLS Director and coordinator, Jeanne Fielding Lord and Kevin Sullivan, with Sr. Jean Schmidt of Loyola University chicago (Photo by Glenn Kaupert Photography)

JLS Director and coordinator, Jeanne Fielding Lord and Kevin Sullivan, with Sr. Jean Schmidt of Loyola University chicago (Photo by Glenn Kaupert Photography)

The Seminar consisted of five days of learning how to effectively lead a Jesuit institution of higher education through lectures, panels and small-group conversations facilitated by the Seminar’s director, Jeanne Fielding Lord, and coordinator, Kevin D. Sullivan. Lecturers and panelists included the president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), Rev. Michael J. Sheeran, S.J., as well as presidents of several Jesuit colleges and universities: Dr. Mark C. Reed of Saint Joseph’s University; Rev. Kevin O’Brien, S.J. (who will begin his tenure as president of Santa Clara University on July 1); and Dr. Antoine M. Garibaldi of the University of Detroit Mercy. Rev. Stephen Katsouros, S.J., executive director of Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago, also served on the faculty and led participants in a tour of Arrupe, the nation’s first Jesuit community college.

Conversations throughout the week (June 10-14) focused on the challenges of working at Jesuit colleges and universities in the 21st century. From rising costs of tuition, to diminishing support from the Federal government, to a diminishing public appreciation for higher education, the issues are numerous and daunting. Other challenges are unique to Catholic institutions, including fallout from the sexual abuse scandal and a shrinking number of priests.

Donna Woodruff of Loyola University Maryland with Sr. Jean Schmidt (Photo by Glenn Kaupert Photography)

Donna Woodruff of Loyola University Maryland with Sr. Jean Schmidt (Photo by Glenn Kaupert Photography)

The Seminar’s program is designed to help participants learn how to address these issues on their own campuses, and find ways to collaborate across the Jesuit network. Donna Woodruff, Assistant Vice President and Director of Athletics at Loyola University Maryland said, “I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at this year’s Jesuit Leadership Seminar. Spending the week with colleagues from across the AJCU network, sharing ideas and insights from everyone’s individual areas of expertise, while soaking up the knowledge shared by the incredible presenters, created an awesome learning environment for all of us. I left the Seminar even more committed to my personal responsibility to support Ignatian values and the Jesuit philosophy not only in my department but also as an integral part of the larger Loyola University Maryland community.”

The Seminar was a meaningful experience for lecturers and panelists as well. Rev. Bryan N. Massingale, S.T.D., Professor of Theological and Social Ethics and the James and Nancy Buckman Chair in Applied Christian Ethics & Senior Fellow at Fordham University, gave a challenging and thought-provoking address on racial justice. In reflecting upon his experience serving on the Seminar’s faculty, Fr. Massingale said, “It's always a joy to meet others who share a commitment to higher education in the context of Ignatian values. What I enjoy about the Seminar is that it is a venue for serious and substantive reflection about weighty issues. Yet it is also a place of collegiality, where new bonds are formed across our campuses. I also very much appreciated the diversity of gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation present in this leadership group – something that bodes well for the future of Jesuit education.”

Several other participants shared reflections on their experience in the 2019 Jesuit Leadership Seminar:

The Jesuit Leadership Seminar was both a great professional experience and an opportunity for personal growth and development. Sometimes as education professionals, we can get so consumed with the work of our independent institutions that we forget that we have an entire network of individuals that we can share knowledge, ideas and resources with, as well as gain support from. JLS both encouraged and assisted with the development of relationships with colleagues by making sure that having opportunities to network was an integral part of our experience. Having the opportunity to meet authentic and genuine colleagues who are interested in the positive growth of education not only validated my current work, but served as a call to action to continuously be immersed and engaged in the Jesuit traditions and values and allow them to guide my work at all times.
— Amber Johnson, Director, TRIO Student Support Services, University of Detroit Mercy
Amber Johnson (second from left) with administrators from the University of Detroit Mercy and JLS (Photo by Glenn Kaupert Photography)

Amber Johnson (second from left) with administrators from the University of Detroit Mercy and JLS (Photo by Glenn Kaupert Photography)

I have worked at Jesuit universities for the past 16 years, and Ignatian spirituality has indelibly impacted my life. For the better part of two decades the Jesuit mission has been my professional North Star, an invitation to work for something greater than myself, but the truth is, until recently, I viewed this mission as inherently belonging to the Jesuits, members of the Society of Jesus. After participating in the Jesuit Leadership Seminar, I feel empowered to view myself as a partner in mission: a companion working alongside the Jesuits to offer an applied liberal arts education that will transform the lives of our students, who will then go out and transform the world.
— Drew Roberts, Ed.D., Assistant Dean of Enrollment Management and Marketing, Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University
Drew Roberts of the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University in conversation with colleagues (Photo by Glenn Kaupert Photography)

Drew Roberts of the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University in conversation with colleagues (Photo by Glenn Kaupert Photography)

Being both new to education and the Jesuit, Catholic tradition, the Jesuit Leadership Seminar provided me with great insight into the principals, traditions and philosophies of Jesuit higher education. The sessions – including frank discussion of race and reconciliation, LGBTQ issues and diversity efforts – deeply resonated with me. I was also inspired by my fellow attendees and made genuine connections that I believe will last throughout my career.
— Lesli Harris, Chief of Staff, Loyola University New Orleans
Lesli Harris of Loyola University New Orleans in conversation with colleagues (Photo by Glenn Kaupert Photography)

Lesli Harris of Loyola University New Orleans in conversation with colleagues (Photo by Glenn Kaupert Photography)

This was a fantastic experience and an opportunity to dive deep into what it means to be in a leadership role at a Jesuit institution. I have been part of other seminars and I am happy to say that even though I feel pretty well versed in Ignatian spirituality as it relates to my work at the College of the Holy Cross, the Jesuit Leadership Seminar was different. It allowed me to explore concepts from slightly different angles. Perhaps it was the amount of time devoted to the Seminar, or the fact that it took me off campus, but the thing that stands out for me are some of the very inspiring speakers I was able to engage with. I came back with concrete tools to help me do my job better, along with a revitalized sense of purpose. In short, it was amazing.
— Dan Kim, Vice President for Communications, College of the Holy Cross
Dan Kim (center) with administrators from the College of the Holy Cross and JLS (Photo by Glenn Kaupert Photography)

Dan Kim (center) with administrators from the College of the Holy Cross and JLS (Photo by Glenn Kaupert Photography)

The Jesuit Leadership Seminar was an experience of meeting old friends for the first time. The talks were informative, inspiring and challenging, but it was more than learning: it was another Jesuit call to action. Because of this, you are going to do things…differently. In meeting colleagues from across the AJCU network, I realized the depth of commitment and competency, but was thrilled to experience the sense of solidarity. Ignatian pedagogy as the tie that binds is transformational and counter cultural. Thank God!
— Matt Thibeau, Interim Director of the Faculty Center for Ignatian Pedagogy, Loyola University Chicago

For more information about the Jesuit Leadership Seminar, please visit thejesuitleadershipseminar.com.