What does it mean at Marquette?
While I do think it
is important in terms of Marquette's religious identity not
to be generic, “Judeo-Christian” or
something like that, but to be what we have always been, Catholic
and Jesuit, we do well to remember that about a third of our
present students are not Roman Catholic. In that regard I am
sometimes asked whether having so many students of other faiths
enrolled at Marquette detracts from our identity as a Catholic
university and I say no, decidedly no. The presence of these
men and women enriches us as a university, helps us to consider
questions that we might otherwise not consider, gives the university
community a wider perspective. In turn, we try to assist these
individuals to engage more deeply with their own particular
here at Marquette feel privileged to be able to travel
this road with our students, to assist them as they
grow both in knowledge and in faith so that they
become men and women who will not only experience
personal success in their chosen profession but will,
as wise, caring and faith-filled leaders, make a
truly positive difference in our world."
You will hear people say that schools like
Marquette are less Catholic today. To the contrary, I would
argue that most of
our American Catholic universities - Marquette certainly among
them - are far more forthright, far more explicit, far more
self-critical about their Catholic identity than they were
30 or 40 years ago. In this regard, we are not shy these days
about stating who we are and what we think it important for
us to be. Furthermore, we not only have a mission statement;
we work hard to make sure that we live out the values it proclaims.
Where once we left it to the Jesuits to take care of the religious
and faith dimensions of the university, we now work to have
all of our faculty and staff involved in actualizing Marquette's
Jesuit and Catholic commitment.
To be sure, a faculty member's
first responsibility is to teach with skill and excellence
his or her specific academic discipline.
Indeed, faculty members contribute in a vital way to the mission
of this university when they teach and do research with excellence,
for this is the primary work God expects them to do. But in
their concern to be effective communicators, in the way they
take into account their students' experiences, in their overall
attention to the needs of their individual students, they necessarily
communicate to their students their own personal values. And
we encourage our professors to recognize, honor and work constantly
to improve this aspect of their work.
I think we've been very
successful in fostering real pride in our identity and mission.
It certainly wasn't a coincidence
that during recent visits by accrediting bodies from the North
Central Association of Colleges and the National Collegiate
Athletic Association, both groups commented that it was unique
to find, as they did at Marquette, students, faculty and staff
members all clearly articulating our mission and the role they
share in helping the university live it.
I personally take a
lot of satisfaction in our progress in this regard, but this
could not have happened without a university-wide
commitment. If I as president were to just wave my hands and
hope good things will then happen, or even if I were to send
down an edict from on high. …well, in a university things
just don't work that way. People who don't want to do something
can find an infinity of ways to appear cooperative when in
fact they are anything but. And so my goal has been to work
steadfastly day by day to win minds and hearts for the cause
because, frankly, I don't believe that people can be coerced
into being good stewards of our university's mission.
there is no room for further improvement in how we conduct
this critical aspect of our business, the forwarding
of our Catholic and Jesuit identity. At times we make mistakes,
and of course the very character of a university, its willingness
to allow odd, even truly strange ideas to be discussed and
advanced, can make it look at times as though we don't adequately
protect our religious values. But I will tell you that when
the presidents of Catholic universities get together these
days, it is clear that they take very seriously their responsibility
for ensuring that their schools remain committed to their
It continues to be such
a pleasure to be a part of this university, a university
at which on a daily
basis our students are exposed
to varying points of view and find themselves wrestling with
deep questions of faith, of ethics, of who they individually
are as human beings and to what specific vocation they are
personally invited. The university thus becomes an environment
in which such questions are very much in play, and helping
our students to discover answers to such questions is no
small part of what we do.
Of course there are challenges
facing Catholic universities, the biggest being how we
can keep this sense of purpose,
this strong sense of identity and dedication to our mission
and strong in the future. More and more of our universities
will have lay men and women replacing clergy as presidents.
Can we in this changing circumstance maintain our Catholic
identity? My short answer, and one I give strongly and
firmly is yes, with work we can indeed do so. Certainly here
Marquette, we are doing whatever can be done humanly to
ensure that over
time the kinds of values that we treasure now can be values
that are in place 50 or 100 years from now and looking
for further ways that we can still better accomplish this.
know, the old Jesuit search for the magis, the still better
way to accomplish what God wishes for us and for this institution.
Still, there are no guarantees; each generation has to
take responsibility for this.
That said, we here at Marquette
feel privileged to be able to travel this road with our
students, to assist them as
they grow both in knowledge and in faith so that they
and women who will not only experience personal success
in their chosen profession but will, as wise, caring
leaders, make a truly positive difference in our world.
Our communities, our nation and our world need a continuing
of principled leaders, and we are committed to developing
students who will respond to that call. And in the tradition
of Loyola, we ourselves are striving day by day to improve
and strengthen all that we do for God's greater glory.
To my mind, you can't be engaged in a more Catholic or