Faculty In-Service Day

Welcome back to you all. I trust you have been busy with research, preparation and renewal, and many of you teaching during the summer. This promises to be an exciting year and we will see the fruition of much work being accomplished in academics, student affairs, faculty development and advancement. Welcome also to you new faculty members, joining your colleagues here for the first time

This has been a busy summer personally and certainly full of the unexpected. I had the opportunity to attend and speak at the second session of the Lasallian Leadership in Higher Education conference in Rome, with participants from more than twenty Lasallian Institutions from around the world. There was a very positive and energetic spirit among the participants and a notable convergence of attitude in embracing the challenge to deepen their grasp of assume responsibility for the Lasallian mission. The four participants from Saint Mary's expressed their attitude in the question: How can we live Lasallian? I expect that you will hear more from them in the coming weeks, as their project involves communicating with the faculty on these issues.

The unexpected: I spent a week in St. James Hospital in Dublin with heart difficulties. I am on the mend and have resumed a normal schedule, but at a more careful pace. I am also being closely monitored by my doctors and under regular treatment.

This rather abrupt stoppage in the ordinary affairs of my job and life, has initiated a series of personal reflections about work and life and re-aligning my own goals to concentrate on what is most important. Thank to the many of you who expressed prayers and concerns about my health during the summer.

I remember when I was assigned to Bethlehem University as Vice Chancellor in 1993 I had a series of meeting with the then Superior General, Brother John Johnston. He told me directly, that I should not accept the position unless I was committed to being deeply spiritual. He was right. The political, social, religious and educational challenges of running a University in the Occupied West Bank were daunting, and I am grateful for Br. John's advice and for the support of a committed community to live and work with.

Brother John's advice also holds true for us. When I returned to the States several years ago, the thought was on my mind that we have a responsibility and an equally daunting challenge here in this country to remain deeply spiritual. We live in a consumer society with a "me" generation, a society which marginalizes religion and spirituality. Yet, our educational mission encourages and inspires us to touch that dimension of our students. And as De La Salle told the first brothers, the teacher must be the example to the students, an example of the transformation, curiosity, and ethical behavior we expect of them. This is a good moment for us to reflect on this important aspect of our calling as teacher.

We will hear this morning about the profile of our students, about who they are and what are their strengths and weaknesses. We will also hear in a few minutes about a most important and vital responsibility of the faculty. I have asked Br. Donald Mansir to report on the agenda of the Core Curriculum Committee Task. We have reached an important moment in the work of this committee and I want to use this moment to bring it to the full attention of the faculty.

I see today's program as an important step in building a vibrant community which understands and embraces the mission, and at the same time a moment to deepen our understanding of and commitment to the students who are at the center of our mission. I thank you all for your participation.