Building on Strengths...Toward 150 Years

President Brother Ronald Gallagher FSC.

Dear Readers,

As the College moves toward its 150th anniversary in 2013, we are working to strengthen our academic community and deepen its liberal arts, Lasallian and Catholic traditions. We have spent the past year reflecting, planning and carrying out initiatives in a number of areas crucial to the College’s future. As the new academic year begins, I want to update you on committees that have been working on several tasks, including developing a strategic plan, reviewing the College’s core curriculum and outlining necessary improvements and additions to campus facilities.

The Building on Strengths Committee has produced a strategic plan which notes our strengths and challenges and identifies multiple tasks for the College community to accomplish in the coming five years. The plan outlines important objectives, including:

  • Deepening our understanding and commitment to the mission
  • Maintaining an effective, engaging and challenging curriculum for students
  • Enhancing the diversity and cultural competency of faculty, staff and students
  • Ensuring modern, sufficient and well-maintained facilities
  • Incorporating sustainable practices and environmental awareness
  • Improving the College’s financial position, including the endowment
  • Attracting and retaining a highly qualified, diverse and engaged faculty
  • Raising the level of alumni engagement and support

When the tasks outlined in the plan are completed, the College will be ready to celebrate its sesquicentennial as a community which understands and embraces its mission to serve the education needs of a diverse population of undergraduate and graduate students. Its faculty, students and programs will be recognized for their impact on the social fabric of the local, national and international community. It will be financially supported and sustained through its alumni, friends, community and endowment, and it will be recognized not only for the quality of its liberal arts education, renown of its faculty and success of its athletics program, but also for the gracious welcome it gives to all.

While the Building on Strengths Committee was at work, the Core Curriculum Task Force, headed by professors Mary True and Roy Wensley, completed its first stage of examining the core curriculum. Task force members conducted extensive interviews on campus, visited other small residential colleges and reviewed literature from more than two dozen other institutions. Members also attended conferences across the country and the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities’ seminar in Rome. In May, it submitted a status report which outlined a broader understanding of core curriculum at Saint Mary’s.

The task force concluded that the core curriculum should be viewed less in terms of specific course requirements and more in terms of nurturing a common undergraduate educational experience that is guided by the mission of the College. The task force determined that the core includes courses common to all students, courses individually chosen to meet learning goals and experiences and competencies which may be met both in and out of courses. As Integral Program tutor Theo Carlile says, “We teach the student, not the subject.”

Meanwhile, the College is committed to improving residential, athletic and academic facilities over the next few years. Among the initiatives approved by the Board of Trustees are a new baseball field in the canyon behind McKeon Pavilion, a new activity and recreation center, renovation of food service facilities in Oliver Hall and improvement of all residence halls. Funding for the major facility initiatives will come from a variety of sources, including fund raising, grants, tax-exempt debt, operation budget appropriations and energy savings.

In St. La Salle,
Brother Ronald Gallagher FSC