The Mission of Saint Mary's

Dear Members of the Saint Mary's Community,

This past week a group of campus leaders - including members of the Diversity Committee, Senate leadership, Deans and Cabinet Members - met with consultants to develop common understandings, identify a pathway towards inclusion for SMC and to begin thinking about an organizational approach to building a fully inclusive community. The conversations and initial agreements generated within the group were productive and fruitful. In the days ahead I look forward to incorporating insights gleaned from faculty conversations and others into an institutional action plan.

A highlight of the session was the opportunity to look again at our College's Mission Statement and be reminded of the ways it calls on us to create a culture that actively supports trust and respect. Drawing from this Mission Statement, from insights gained during the conversations last week, and from the extensive work of our campus diversity committee, we will draft a vision statement for our diversity initiative which is rooted in our mission. At the same time, Provost Dobkin, based on similar consultation, will craft an educational case statement for inclusion at Saint Mary's. Both will be shared with our community for feedback and refinement. These documents will become the foundation for the action plan we present to WASC when we meet with them next month.

Board Chair Jim Quandt, Provost Dobkin and I attended a WASC meeting in San Diego last week. It afforded us the opportunity to meet with WASC leadership and to impress upon them our commitment to addressing their concerns. WASC leaders acknowledged the forthright and open manner in which the College has responded to their challenge and the steps we have already taken. An example of our continuing efforts is that Tommy Woon, dean of multicultural life at Macalester College who was recommended by Saint Mary's Diversity Commitee, is on campus this week meeting with different leaders and committees.

Provost Dobkin has scheduled a diversity planning workshop for May 8 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. in the Soda Center. This gathering will provide members of our community with an opportunity to provide feedback on our draft vision and educational case statements for diversity and for individuals to suggest ways that they can contribute to our shared efforts to create a fully inclusive community.

In his address to Catholic educators last week, Pope Benedict observed that "intellectual charity" calls on educators "to recognize that the profound responsibility to lead the young to truth is nothing less than an act of love." The Pope's inspiring words mirror insights shared by Saint La Salle in establishing the Lasallian vocation. As we seek to address difficult and challenging issues, it is good to be reminded that the continued success of our educational efforts here at Saint Mary's depend upon a form of intellectual charity. I urge all members of our community to read and consider the full text of the Holy Father's remarks to Catholic educators.

Pope Benedict concluded his comments at Catholic University with a reminder to "bear witness to hope." The continued excellence of our faculty, success of our students and the warmth of spring all give us reason to be hope-filled people. As we face difficult challenges and conversations, let us remember that we are in God's holy presence and are the beneficiaries of divine hope.

In St. La Salle,

Brother Ronald Gallagher, FSC