Faculty Development Day

Aug 22, 2013

 It is my great pleasure to welcome you today, as we begin another exciting year at Marywood University.  I especially wish to welcome our new faculty members and look forward to meeting each of you personally at orientation and at the reception for new faculty. I hope that your time at Marywood will be growth-filled for you and for the students you will be teaching. Welcome to you and to your returning colleagues.

As we begin a new academic year, I want to return for a moment to the wonderful commencement address given by Archbishop Tobin last May. Archbishop Tobin is a Redemptorist and he has a deep awareness of the vision, mission and values that are at the very heart of all we are and do at Marywood University. I am providing each of you with a copy of his address because this is a moment in our history when it is really important to look back as we look forward.

When Marywood was founded in 1915, before women even had the right to vote, our forebears embarked on a bold and courageous journey.  The vision of excellence was there; the commitment to justice and empowerment was there; the willingness to sacrifice for the common good was there; and an ethos of community and service guided relationships within and beyond the borders of this campus. The Marywood journey was well begun and the core of our identity has remained vibrant in the growth and evolution of this University. It is good to look back as we look forward.

Nothing stands still. What I especially liked in Archbishop Tobin’s address to our graduates was the profound reminder that he gave them and all of us “that the journey of your life will look very different, depending on how you choose to travel. It seems to me, he said, that you are faced with a choice between going through life as a tourist or as a pilgrim.”….

“Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure, or business purposes…” It is an exchange relationship in a sociological sense; tourists spend something and get something in return. Tourism and pilgrimage are very different. “Pilgrimage, he noted, is a sacred journey….Pilgrimage is a sense of being connected: linked in a fundamental manner with our final destination and whoever awaits us there, but, also connected with our fellow travelers in a sort of mutuality that tourists never quite achieve.”

Archbishop Tobin made the distinction between tourism and pilgrimage in the context of what constitutes a life of meaning and purpose. I would like to apply the distinction to the opportunity we have as a University community to journey together as pilgrims to our Centennial and beyond. Tourists visit; pilgrims fully commit themselves to the journey. 

Our Centennial year of 2015 is on the horizon, and, so too are historic plans for this University.  We have many outstanding initiatives—some in motion, some about to be realized—and I invite you to be an integral part of the progress we make.

It is not just the groundbreakings, constructions, or renovations; it is the building of minds and hearts—the transformation of our students’ lives and ultimately of the world—that is central to the educational process here at Marywood.  As we prepare for the Centennial, I invite and encourage each of you to engage in our common journey as a pilgrim.

With that said, there are a number of events on the calendar this semester at which I encourage your full participation, namely the events that shape the momentum of our academic year and the life of the University—the Opening Liturgy on Wednesday, September 4, and the Fall Convocation on Thursday, September 19. The following month will feature the historic groundbreaking for the Learning Commons on Friday, October 18.

At these and other events, large and small, your presence makes a difference. Each of us has a role to play, especially at this extraordinary time. We need to respond to the call to move Marywood University forward, using our talents and gifts to affirm and advance the bold vision that began nearly a century ago.

At Marywood, we are guided by a vital mission and a strong set of core values that flow from the Catholic intellectual tradition. This tradition is greatly enriched by a heritage of social teachings that emphasize the dignity of the human person, the importance of community, and a spirituality of engagement with the world.  It is important for our faculty, administrators, students and staff to understand the significance of these values. These are values we live, not just values we list.  

Our values also help us when we need to take a closer look.  We are, as you know, taking a closer look at our nursing program. We have arranged for nursing students to get all the support they need to graduate. We are also taking all the necessary steps to make sure we have and maintain the accreditations that are best for our students and our institution.

I am pleased to tell you that I have just received notice that our nursing accreditation issue has been resolved. According to ACEN attorney Patrick McKee, “after a thorough review of the materials submitted by the University, ACEN has determined that the University has established good cause for the University to be continued in accreditation for 12 months and placed on warning, with a visit to review its compliance with all of the Standards in Spring 2014 and final Board action in July 2014.”  In my view, this action relied heavily on our successful efforts to be in compliance with all ACEN standards.  I see this success as a direct reflection of the hard work and commitment of Marywood’s faculty, administrators, and staff, who have worked tirelessly to ensure that our students continue to receive a quality education that prepares them for rewarding nursing careers. Throughout this entire difficult process, our focus has been on our students, as it always is.  This resolution was accomplished with excellent teamwork, great care and concern, and respect.

Our core value of respect is central to us as a university community—through it, we honor the uniqueness and dignity of each person; we demonstrate ethical and just interactions; and we care for the earth and all creation through a commitment to sustainability.

This value of respect must be present in the way in which we relate with one another and with our students. While the call of an educator is not an easy one, it is meaningful and has enormous possibility to positively impact countless lives. How we do what we do is every bit as important as what we do!

As educators and mentors, we impart knowledge and assist students in their remarkable process of self-realization and professional development. We are privileged to be part of the lives of so many young persons, some of whom are just beginning to find their way. They often look to us for assurance and direction as they choose and navigate their respective journeys. They crave the professional expertise of our faculty and are eager to learn…but they also desire the passion that you bring to what you do. Your passion informs and ignites their goals and dreams.

What we do here isn’t simply important—it’s life-giving and life-shaping. These are lessons that go beyond the course material. As faculty, you play a major role in shaping this generation of students and the generations to follow, by modeling the value of respect and demonstrating it through your interactions with students, administrators and one another. The faculty here at Marywood does outstanding work in the classroom and through research endeavors. Your scholarly accomplishments are to be admired and recognized. Yet, when you purposely weave Marywood’s core values into the framework of what you teach, your material and your message are immediately strengthened.

I often tell the students that when they choose Marywood, they choose more than a University—they choose an experience that will remain with them far beyond the boundaries of this campus. Diplomas are made to be displayed on a wall, but an education is meant to liberate hearts and minds to do great things. Theory and practices may change, but the values we impart remain with students long after they graduate. So often when I speak to alumni, even those who graduated many years ago, the most common topic of interest for them is discussing how their lives were influenced and shaped by a certain professor. That’s because these values endure!

I have spent a lot of time this summer thinking about Marywood’s mission and values and of the importance of lifting them up at the time of our Centennial as integral to what makes Marywood Marywood. In the past two years I have emphasized the themes of Catholic identity and empowerment. Across the next three years, we will focus on each of the remaining core values—respect, service, and excellence. We are currently working on a comprehensive three-year plan that will take us through the Centennial in 2015-16.

You know, one of the things that most engages me about Theresa Maxis, the co-founder of the IHM Congregation, is her exhortation “to go where the life is.” This is part of our DNA; it is embedded in our spiritual genes and heritage. This idea has guided our strategic thinking in analyzing enrollment trends, academic strengths, and growth opportunities in response to the needs of society.

This is why in the last two years we invested $3.3 million in renovating the Science Center to create a new nursing simulation lab as well as a new, state-of-the-art, ecologically advanced organic chemistry lab that will set the stage for exceptional opportunities for students and faculty in our growing science program.  This is also why, in response to overwhelming market demand for physician assistants, we spent $1.7 million this summer to expand facilities for our Physician Assistant program, so that we could accept more students and prepare them to meet urgent healthcare needs throughout our regional community, our nation, and our world.

This is why we are making plans to expand our Communication Sciences & Disorders facilities, another program where we get many more applicants than we are able to presently accommodate. This is also why we took the pioneering, bold initiative in 2009 to open the region’s first and only School of Architecture, which just five years later enrolls nearly 250 students.  We are now at the point of providing graduate education in architecture and are in need of expanding facilities.

This is also why we continue to invest in the arts, because we consistently have seen wonderful developments in this foundational component of our Marywood tradition—in Music, Theatre, Dance, Visual Arts, Art Therapy, and, in Communication Arts—a particular area where we are creating a vision for a much broader platform for what it will mean to be a communication artist. 

This is also why we started the School of Social Work in 1969, the first doctoral program in the region in 1996, a Psy. D. program in 2001 and why we are now looking at interdisciplinary possibilities at the doctoral level in response to shifting market demands.

All of these initiatives in strategic planning and action are in keeping with a rich history of resourcefulness in moving our mission forward with agility and integrity.

There will be much more to share as we continue to move along, but right now I want to add to the information that you already have about the new Learning Commons, another major strategic initiative.  The Learning Commons is a vision that has been in planning stages for a long time, having been spearheaded initially by many people in this room. It is now more than a vision. The Learning Commons is a reality. The design and physical infrastructure are already in place. Many of you have seen the floor plans and have read the design descriptions. This summer, all around the existing library facility, construction was completed on the first phase of preparing the site and building the underground infrastructure.

Meanwhile, I have met with literally hundreds of alumni and benefactors over the last year, including this spring and summer, in order to present this next important strategic initiative, and I want to tell you that the response has been overwhelmingly positive and exciting. Let me assure you, people out there love and respect this institution.

As a result of our efforts, we have already received significant personal and financial commitments to The Learning Commons from alumni, faculty, former faculty, and friends of the University—friends many of you are familiar with and friends who are new to our Marywood family of benefactors. You will hear about and meet some of them in October at an event I will tell you about in a moment.

One of the most significant achievements in this effort occurred on perhaps the singly most challenging fund-raising front—support from government. This spring, Marywood was awarded a $4 million grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in support of our visionary Learning Commons. The funding is called a RACP grant—Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. To give you an idea about how the Learning Commons project stood out among hundreds of applicants for the very limited RACP funding, our $4 million grant was among the highest in the state and was the only such grant awarded to an institution of higher education in Northeast Pennsylvania. And now, we have just completed another application for the next round of RACP funding, also in support of the Learning Commons project.

Our behind-the-scenes efforts to generate support has been a labor of love and commitment, and I am happy to tell you that we are more than 50 percent of the way in pledges toward achieving our goal for this important campaign. 

And now we are ready to bring the campaign to a broader audience. On October 17, we will announce the “public” phase of our campaign.

As you may know, it is called “A Bold Heart: the Centennial Campaign for Marywood University.” For the campaign public launch, we will invite the campus community, as well as our Board of Trustees, alumni and the many community volunteers who have already committed their time, talent and resources to this campaign. I invite all of you to mark that date on your calendars and to join with all of us in bringing this vision to reality.

The public launch of our “Bold Heart” campaign will demonstrate in personal and celebratory ways how 100 years of the Marywood approach to education fulfills the exhortation from Theresa Maxis to “go where the life is.” I think you will be pleasantly surprised by all that you learn about on October 17th, and you will be inspired by what promises to be the focal point of all the strategic initiatives I’ve talked about today. We’re calling it “A Bold Heart” because we are proud of the bold and courageous endeavors we have made over the last century, despite political obstacles and economic challenges, and we know that the heart of who we are finds its strength in our history and sustains us as we move boldly into our next century.

On the very next day after the public announcement event, on the afternoon of October 18th, we will have a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Learning Commons, and again, I invite you to participate in that historic event. The second phase of construction of the new facility will begin in spring 2014. The Learning Commons will be built using high-tech, state-of-the-art construction techniques and sustainable design principles, and will represent the most current thinking in terms of the convergence of information and technology.

Plans for new programmatic uses of the Learning Commons are well underway. In addition to using the facility to support existing academic programs, we anticipate that the Commons will provide important new services and programs that will enrich the educational experience of our students, the development of our faculty, and the service of the broader community. All of these initiatives are borne out of our tradition of anticipating and facilitating unmet needs in our University and our greater community. A few of these programs and services include:

  • An Entrepreneurship Launch Pad, an incubator space and mentoring program for entrepreneurs and small business owners; this is directly linked to growth areas that we see in our business program, again a response to market demand;
  • A Regional Archives Gallery with storage and research space for mining maps and other historical documents from regional organizations, such as the Lackawanna Historical Society; this will provide a unique and much needed academic and community resource;
  • The Center for Transformational Teaching and Learning, which will link new teachers with mentors to help increase teacher retention in our school districts;  we must use new lenses to look at how we apply our rich tradition of teacher education to a changing educational landscape;
  • The Renewal-Veteran Education and Transition Services program (R-VETS) that will provide free bridge education in the areas of math, English, and writing to military veterans in the local community; we are a Yellow Ribbon higher education institution and we already know that there are approximately 1,100 returning veterans in our area; again we are seeking to respond to a community need; and
  • Collaboration with the Institute for Lifelong Learning, our program to encourage seniors in our community to continue learning through personal enrichment courses and experiences; last year 1,037 seniors, the largest number ever, participated in our opportunities for lifelong learning.


These are just a few examples of the programmatic opportunities this magnificent facility will offer. As you may know, the Learning Commons will also continue to serve our traditional as well as emerging library services, and will provide a centralized location for our Office for Informational Technology. It will naturally become the central gathering space for our students and for open and flexible teaching environments.

Our new Learning Commons will be dedicated on September 8, 2015, the actual 100th anniversary of the opening of Marywood. The existing Learning Resources Center will not be taken down until after everything has been moved to the new Learning Commons. Then, the work on the Motherhouse Memorial Commons, on the site of the current Memorial Commons, will be completed in time for the April Board meeting in 2016.

“A Bold Heart: the Centennial Campaign for Marywood University” will be the catalyst for the celebration of our Centennial year in 2015. Many in this room have already contributed their ideas and work toward ways in which we can use events and creativity to celebrate our Centennial throughout the year, and especially around the September 8, 2015 anniversary date. There is much more to come as Committees continue the planning and the work of executing those plans begins. And there will be many opportunities for faculty involvement with Centennial initiatives across the next three years. I invite all of you to make an extra effort to be part of this historic and exciting time.

As we approach the Centennial, we need to be proactive, agile, strategic and creative, working together as pilgrims committed to a common journey. These are challenging times for higher education in the northeast as demographics shift, funding streams narrow, and governmental, regulatory and public voices posture around issues of affordability, “customer satisfaction,” and cost containment. In these demanding times, we have put people first; in contrast to many of our peers, Marywood faculty and staff have received consistent increases in salary from the time of the 2008 economic downturn right through to the current year. As we continue to move forward, there can be no room for complacency. We have to keep our eye on the vision, while at the same accomplishing departmental, school, college and university goals in timely, focused, innovative, flexible and friendly ways.

We must be bold enough to dream big and passionate enough to make those dreams happen. Nelson Mandela said, “There is no passion to be found in playing small—in settling for a life that is less than what you are capable of living.”

This is an incredible time in our students’ lives, as well as in the life of the University—and I assure you that Marywood will not “play small” and settle for something less; rather, we will continue to dream big, and achieve something more—with great passion.

I thank you for doing your part. As faculty you have a central role in carrying out our educational mission—sparking a healthy curiosity that leads to deeper questions and helps students to realize their full potential. You are educators. You are mentors. You are researchers. You are role models. You are stakeholders. You have the choice to be tourists or pilgrims as we journey to the Centennial and into our second century. I invite you to embrace the journey to 2015 and beyond with big dreams and great passion!

I hope that each of you will have a successful, fulfilling 2013-2014 academic year at Marywood University.  I’d like now to turn the podium over to Ann Boland-Chase, Vice President for Enrollment Management, for a discussion of some important aspects of recruitment and retention. Thank you.