Dear Members of the Saint Mary's College Community,
We are again at a most busy time of the semester, with many internal and external activities as evidence of the robust life of the College. We feel joy and excitement at the accomplishments of our students in the arts and in competitive athletics. I offer my congratulations to our Dance Company for their admirable performance at the West Coast Region College Dance Festival, and for their invitation to compete later this year at the Kennedy Center. I share the great excitement about our Men's Basketball team which has competed with remarkable success in the NCAA Tournament. I invite those of you on campus for this Friday's 4:20 p.m. game to watch with the community in Dryden Hall.
We welcomed a record number of potential honor students to campus last week for the overnight program. Thanks are due to the many students, faculty and staff who organized and assisted in the program. During the parent portion of the very successful program, Interim Dean Roy Wensley was asked how science was taught at SMC given our Catholic tradition. This parent was evidently concerned that our Catholic character might mean that students at SMC were not educated in the most current and contemporary scientific knowledge. Of course, Roy eloquently responded and assuaged her concern.
Also last week many on campus attended a lecture by Gloria Steinem. Our failure to welcome all members of our community to campus for that event illustrated the need to better clarify our understanding and implementation of the new public speaker policy. The tensions we experience over presenting speakers whose views may be challenging to our Catholic tradition or doctrine also remind us that our special role as a Catholic institution of higher education is to seek understanding of our contemporary world in order better to live and understand our faith. In the words of John Haughey, S.J.: "The Catholic intellectual tradition serves both the Church and the world best by retaining a dialectical relationship to each of them. It is the cutting edge of further understanding in the Church; it is also dependent on the doctrinal tradition to be in a continuum with the Church." (Where is Knowing Going. P.94) Father Haughey will be visiting Saint Mary's College the week of April 12-16. I invite you all to hear his presentation on the reason for Catholic higher education and how Saint Mary's carries this important work of the Church.
Our mission calls on us to build an inclusive community. The peaceful and silent student protestors during community time last week left a list of ten items with my office. In addition to being impressed by their civility, positive intentions and obvious commitment to inclusive excellence, I am pleased that our students' list includes many items that groups on campus are already working diligently to achieve. For example, the Core Curriculum Implementation Committee and others are identifying ways to enrich and strengthen our curriculum. Our continued commitment to need-based financial aid insures that needy students from all backgrounds receive the bulk of our limited aid resources. The CCIE continues to develop training opportunities that will increase the likelihood of diversifying our faculty and staff, and to describe how inclusivity flows from our Catholic heritage and anthropology. The ASSMC is actively working with students to bring more of its members onto campus committees and advisory bodies. A broad-based committee is in the process of renewing and strengthening our campus commitment to the Women's Resource Center. This review is also examining our processes for supporting victims of relationship violence and confidential reporting. These efforts and others are needed to respond to our students and to appropriately live out our Catholic and Lasallian mission.
As we approach Holy Week and our traditional spring break, I wish all of you a restful and prayerful Easter season.
Thanks for your support for and commitment to our mission.
In St. La Salle,
Brother Ronald Gallagher, FSC President