Inclusive Excellence and the Mission of Saint Mary's College
Inclusive excellence means learning from diverse people in our community and creating a culture in which we are all valued, respected, and supported. It means to be open to new ideas and to learn from meaningful engagement with persons from diverse backgrounds. It means to reflect critically upon our own experiences and be willing to see the world from fresh perspectives. At Saint Mary’s the pursuit of inclusive excellence takes place in a diverse community that has its roots firmly embedded in three traditions: Liberal arts, Catholic, and Lasallian. Each of these traditions supports the work of inclusive excellence.
The liberal arts tradition provides persons with the strategies and skills to be free and to understand that freedom is an integral part of human dignity. The liberal arts tradition supports inclusive excellence by creating a space for the free exchange of ideas and by encouraging vibrant intellectual debate. Inclusive excellence means, for instance, that Saint Mary’s can welcome both Feminists for Life and Gloria Steinem within days of each other and both speakers are treated with dignity and respect, even though we may disagree with either. It means also that we remain open to learning from each of them.
Underlying the Catholic tradition is the origin of the dignity of the human person who is made in the image and likeness of the Creator. When one sees others as persons, one sees in each of them the whole of humanity. It is a tradition rooted in the hospitality of Abraham and expressed in the great commandment to love God and neighbor. The Catholic tradition at Saint Mary’s supports inclusive excellence by creating a safe and welcoming community for all people and ideas. As the Catholic Church teaches in Nostra Aetate, “The Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination or harassment because of race, color, condition of life, or religion.” We are called to maintain good fellowship and to live in peace with all. Therefore, Saint Mary's College is open to and supportive of every member of our community, regardless of gender, faith, race, ethnicity, social class, physical ability, or sexual orientation. Every faculty, staff, and student at Saint Mary’s College enriches our community.
All of us at Saint Mary’s are inspired by the work of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. In the tradition of De la Salle, faculty, staff, and students at Saint Mary’s are dedicated to education – to educate ourselves and to educate others. To pursue this mission in a diverse world requires that we practice inclusive excellence. We educate students from a variety of backgrounds and each is deserving of the highest quality education. As a Lasallian school we offer our students the opportunities they need to reach their highest potential. In particular, we endeavor to provide advantages to those who have enjoyed the fewest.
To exercise inclusive excellence at Saint Mary’s is to fulfill the three traditions of the college. It does not mean that we are of one mind. Nor does it mean that we hide our differences. Inclusive excellence means that we are committed to engaging in open, respectful, and often difficult dialogue about ideas, faith, education, and difference. In the best tradition of shared inquiry, the pursuit of inclusive excellence is a collective project in which all of our voices are heard, all of us listen carefully, and all of us learn from each other.