As Saint Mary's College of California approaches its sesquicentennial we face the challenges of the 21st century, led by our Liberal Arts, Lasallian and Catholic traditions which have served generations of our graduates. Our Mission statement eloquently expresses our purpose: to probe deeply the mystery of existence by cultivating the ways of knowing and the arts of thinking; to affirm and foster the Christian understanding of the human person which animates mission of the Catholic Church; to create a student centered educational community, whose members support one another with mutual understanding and respect.
We aspire to be known nationwide for the strength of our academic programs as well as the distinctiveness of our curriculum. We will continue to ask our students to encounter directly the breadth of human thought through our great books and seminar tradition. We should be known as a college that transforms students through engagement with an outstanding faculty, small classes, active involvement in community service, non-traditional learning opportunities including the January Term, interdisciplinary coursework, and opportunities for meaningful involvement with faculty in research. We aspire to be known as a college which sends its graduates into the world intellectually, emotionally and spiritually awakened and prepared to live purposeful, ethical lives.
The college's graduate and professional programs should be recognized for their fundamental excellence, quality of instruction, accessibility to a rapidly growing audience of adult learners, and relevance to emerging social, economic and demographic trends.
Saint Mary's should also be heralded as a values-oriented, inclusive learning community where students truly are at the center of planning and our action; where faculty and staff embrace their work as a calling; where all community members model the supportive relationship between teacher and student envisioned by Saint La Salle and practiced by those he mentored. We see the scholar/teacher as the one who accompanies the student on his or her path. The members of this community reflect the diversity of the West Coast: multi-ethnic, from diverse spiritual, economic and demographic backgrounds. Many students are the first in their families to attend college. The changing nature of our students and the experiences they bring with them has changed our learning environment, creating the opportunity for Saint Mary's to be known as a leader in inclusive, collaborative learning.
Creating and sustaining a community of purpose and meaning
We must dedicate additional resources to enriching the student experience and invigorating campus life. As detailed in our Building on Strengths strategic blueprint, we will enhance, renovate and appropriately expand campus facilities serving the academic, residential, recreational and spiritual needs of students and others. We also will take steps to bring faculty and staff compensation and benefit programs to competitive parity with peer institutions.
We are fully committed to sustaining a highly competitive Division I intercollegiate athletic program that is a source of pride for all Gaels.
We are committed to enabling all undergraduate students to work collaboratively with faculty members on relevant research endeavors. We are determined to provide and promote opportunities for students, faculty, staff, alumni, administrative and advisory boards and others to participate in Lasallian formation activities so that we all are willing, engaged inheritors of Saint LaSalle's vision.
Our commitment to community extends well beyond our campus borders. We will identify and implement services that better connect students and others to our region's unparalleled service learning, cultural and social opportunities. Reflecting our commitment to life-long learning, our graduate programs will provide increasingly entrepreneurial and engaging curricula, helping this growing demographic of motivated learners more profoundly impact their communities and professions.
Embracing and inspiring support of our mission
Realizing our dreams requires that we better engage our alumni, other individuals and organizations in the life of the College. This, in turn, will enable us to better help students and all members of our community live more informed and responsible lives as global citizens.
I am committed to endowing new academic Chairs and our Centers and Institutes; funding additional faculty research and development, and accelerating needed renovation and expansion of campus facilities. We will also continue to address the needs of students from poor families and enroll a significant number of qualified Pell Grant students. Achieving this goal will require substantial growth in our endowment, as the gap between federal and state aid and the cost of attending college continues to widen. This will also require active recruitment of students who are best qualified to achieve success at Saint Mary's.
Beyond these commitments, we will through appropriate advocacy efforts be an active voice on issues of college affordability, and seek to ensure stability and increased access to state and federal student aid programs.
Engaging with society
Our intellectual and spiritual traditions inspire us to recognize and address global challenges. Our Catholic tradition holds that pursuit of truth contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of the meaning of human life and the purpose of God's creation. Accordingly, we will encourage our faculty and centers and institutes to intensify efforts to research and address global environmental challenges, poverty, social injustice and the proper distribution of global resources.
Wherever possible, we will dedicate resources to materially impact global Lasallian social justice initiatives.
Modeling the vision of Saint La Salle
Over three centuries have passed since our founder gathered his first students in a small classroom in France. Our work at Saint Mary's is the embodiment of Saint La Salle's: enhancing the common good and achieving salvation, through Christian education.