May Newsletter: Reflection
- A Farewell President's Post
- An Inaugural President's Post
- Seeking Committee Members to Review Innovation Grant Applications
- Annual JASPA Awards of Excellence Nominations
- Message from JASPA 2020 Summer Institute Co-Chairs
- May Blog Post: Michele C. Murray, Ph.D., College of the Holy Cross
A Farewell President's Post
Greetings, Friends. This is the last time I’ll be writing to you as JASPA President. While this is a bittersweet transition for me, it is a time of very consoling continuity for JASPA. My goals in this message are to share a few notes of gratitude and optimism, and to leave you with three quotes to consider in your reflections during this socially distant and turbulent month.
First, my gratitude. This month our colleague Jeanne Rosenberger concludes her term as Past President of JASPA, and steps away from the Executive Board that she has served, led, and enriched in so many ways. Jeanne is always a voice of wisdom, balance, and care, and she has been a creative and generative leader, both at Santa Clara University and in JASPA. Jeanne, we are tremendously grateful for your kindness, your strength, your judgment, and your excellent leadership.
Second, my optimism. This month David Johnson of Xavier University steps up at JASPA President, and I know he will be a thoughtful, authentic, and effective leader. At the same time, Michele Murray of the College of the Holy Cross begins her service at President Elect of JASPA. Michele brings many gifts and talents into this role, and we are fortunate to have both Dave and Michele to carry our Association forward through this uncertain time.
Finally, my quotes. Each of these seems meaningful to me in our present circumstances, and I would like to share the reasons for that.
The first quote is from the late Howard Gray, SJ, one of the giants of modern Ignatian spirituality: “Education is helping the young come home to themselves”. Father Gray reminds us of the core of our mission, and challenges us during this “virtual learning” time to invent new ways of creating “home” for our students, wherever they may be.
The second quote is from the American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay: "In the depth of winter I found there was in me an invincible summer". Millay invites us to reflect on our own strengths and sources of meaning, especially in times when we may feel depleted and stressed. This photo of a path in my neighborhood reminded me to Millay’s words, and assured me that there is beauty to be found in every winter.
The third quote is from Mark Twain: “You cannot depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus”. Twain’s clever words speak to me about the invitation and the opportunities that are hidden in all the struggle and the loss of this season of Coronavirus. Each of us is called to imagine new futures, new paths forward, and new understandings of ourselves and our vocations as we move through this crisis.
My opportunity to lead in JASPA has brought with it a deeper awareness of our role as Ignatian educators. It has also taught me about sources of strength and meaning that our shared tradition offers to each of us, in any season. And, it has sharpened my imagination, through great conversations and experiences with wise and caring colleagues. For all of this, I am deeply grateful to every JASPA member who has been part of my journey. I wish each of you peace and joy in the weeks ahead.
Todd Olson, Phd
JASPA Past President
An Inaugural President's Post
JASPA has been a community that has supported and inspired me during all my years in Jesuit higher education, and I am honored to be stepping into the role of JASPA President. Our community embodies the transformative power of Jesuit higher education and I am eager to continue to invest in it by investing in one another.
Currently I serve as the Chief Student Affairs Officer at Xavier University in Cincinnati. One of the great gifts of my thirteen-year tenure at Xavier has been collaborating with the many tremendous leaders across the JASPA network. The last two years, working with the JASPA Executive Board, has been particularly enriching. On behalf of all our members, I want to thank Todd Olson and Jeanne Rosenberger for the capable and mission driven leadership they have provided. Jeanne may be stepping off the Executive Board but I have no doubt she will continue to guide and forward the efforts of JASPA. And Todd, as a continuing member of the board, will go on doing that which he does so capably: keep us focused on our Jesuit mission and tradition as well as responsive to the opportunities and demands of our current moment.
And to be sure, the current moment we are living in is full of challenges and opportunities. COVID-19 has magnified long standing economic and social injustices, and has increased the vulnerability of marginalized communities on campuses, in our country and across the globe. In response to our current crisis, the Secretary General of the Society of Jesus, Father Sosa, has been clear: the goal is not that we get back to normal after coronavirus but that we transform the world, building communities and systems that are more just, inclusive and kind. Jesuit colleges and universities, he reminds us, can heal, inspire and lead prophetic change.
There is no leadership team that I would rather pursue this work with than JASPA’s Executive Board. I am particularly pleased to share that Michele Murray, the Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students at Holy Cross, will be joining the board as the President Elect and Julie Orio, the Vice Provost of Student Life at the University of San Francisco, as Secretary. Michele and Julie bring deep roots in Jesuit higher education to the board and a commitment to innovation and student-centered leadership.
Student affairs professionals have long been central actors in helping to shape institutions, students and leaders that heal, inspire and facilitate change. And JASPA has long supported the formation, revitalization and creativity of student affairs professionals. The coming years will be difficult to be sure. I have no doubt, however, that JASPA will continue to bring us all together—through many different mediums—and will continue to equip and empower us all to heal, inspire and lead.
Dave Johnson, Phd
Seeking Committee Members to Review Innovation Grant Applications
Each year, JASPA awards a limited number of grants for the purpose of applying current research to address pressing issues in Jesuit student affairs. While proposals for all projects/programs that address the goals and values of JASPA are welcome, special emphasis will be placed on those that are focused on efforts promoting diversity and inclusion. More information about the process can be found here: https://www.jesuitstudentaffairs.org/cpages/grants.
We have received a number of excellent proposals and are now seeking committee members to review grant applications and make funding recommendations to the JASPA Executive Board. This commitment (reviewing applications and participating in a virtual meeting to discuss them) will take place during late May, and is not expected to take more than a few hours in total. If you are interested in serving on this committee, please email Shannon Howes (firstname.lastname@example.org) by Friday, May 15. Thank you.
Annual JASPA Awards of Excellence – Nominations Now Available!
Nominations are now available for the 2020 JASPA Awards of Excellence and are due by Monday, June 1, 2020. Please click on the links below to review award information, see past recipients, and to nominate an individual or campus program/initiative. We look forward to celebrating the accomplishments of our JASPA community!
If you have any questions about the annual awards nomination process please do not hesitate to reach out to Dr. Mark Harrington, Chair of the Recognition and Awards Committee, at email@example.com.
Message from JASPA 2020 Summer Institute Co-Chairs
Dear JASPA Community,
As you learned in the April 7th newsletter from the JASPA Executive Board, the Five Year Summer Institute at Loyola University Chicago is not being held this summer. The JASPA Executive Board is committed to revisiting alternatives for professional development when we have a better sense of ongoing health, safety, and financial concerns for 2021. As you know, there are a lot of challenges to consider.
The planning for the 2020 Five Year Summer Institute began in 2016. So many individuals have offered their time, skills, talents, and Jesuit enthusiasm to create an outstanding program… the program presenters, the speakers, JASPA Executive Board, the Host Committee, and the Program Committee… to name just a few. We were just a few months shy of seeing all this hard work come to fruition and we are certainly disappointed that we can’t share it with all of you. With that said, we appreciate the beauty of Ignatian indifference, and wow, what better time could there be to discern and acknowledge what is most important in life and where our gifts can best be applied.
Before signing off, we’d like to acknowledge our colleagues (who have become friends) who poured their hearts into their Host and Program Committee roles. If you know any of these individuals (or even if you don’t), please reach out to them and thank them. We are so very grateful for their dedication, initiative, creativity, and thoughtfulness. This was one of the greatest teams we’ve been a part of.
- Michele Bogard, Content Chair, Creighton University
- Michael Puma, Content Chair, Loyola University Maryland
- Ophelie Rowe-Allen, Content Chair, Fairfield University
- Jessie Graf, Pre-Institute Retreat Chair, Boston College
- Matt Razek, Pre-Institute Retreat Chair, Boston College
- Charlene Brown-McKenzie, Post-Institute Engagement Experiences Chair, Georgetown University
- Kathleen Brucato, Logistics Chair, Canisius College
- Tedd Vanadilok, Logistics Chair, Santa Clara University
- Jane Neufield, Vice President for Student Development, Loyola University Chicago
- Dawn Collins, Student Development, Loyola University Chicago
- Irina Greenwald, Student Development, Loyola University Chicago
- Shannon Howes, Student Development, Loyola University Chicago
- Jack McLean, Student Development, Loyola University Chicago
- Deb Schmidt-Rogers, Residence Life, Loyola University Chicago
We hope that all of you and your respective campus communities are able to take some time to enjoy the approaching summer despite all we are confronting, and we look forward to continued solidarity and collaboration across our campuses.
Kiersten White, Program Committee Co-Chair, Saint Joseph’s University
Bennie Williams, Program Committee Co-Chair, LeMoyne College
Susan Haarman, Host Committee Co-Chair, Loyola University Chicago
Tim Love, Host Committee Co-Chair, Loyola University Chicago
May Blog Post: Michele C. Murray, Ph.D., College of the Holy Cross
Grief, Meaning, and the Examen
The view from my window earlier today was spectacular. Flowers were in bloom, and trees were unfurling their tender new leaves. Songbirds were lining up for the feeder, and chipmunks and rabbits were frolicking in the warmth of the sun. As May begins, and the days get longer, it’s clear—at least from my window—that spring is here. But I must admit, it’s hard for me to believe that we’re in the midst of spring, despite all of the evidence right in my backyard.
The difficulty marking the season, I realize, is because all of the other signs I’ve come to count on are conspicuously absent. Absent are the sights and sounds of spring on campus—frisbee on the quad, spring festivals, and the joyous sounds of laughter and friendship that seem to increase in direct proportion to the temperature outside. Also missing are exuberant students donning caps and gowns and proud families taking oodles of photos at all of the campus landmarks.
I am recognizing that the absence of these familiar sights and sounds is filling me with a sense of loss. I find myself grieving what has been lost, and I also find myself trying to make sense of it all, or at least make sense of parts of it. I am, quite clearly, going through the stages of grief, and as far as I can tell, so are my colleagues around the country and so are our students. We are grieving the loss of what we knew. We’re grieving the loss of one another’s company. We are grieving the loss of what we imagined for ourselves. And many of us are grieving the loss of a loved one due to the virus. There is no accounting for the grief and loss in our collective experience.
In times of uncertainty, we go back to what we know. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross taught us about the grief process. She taught us that we should expect to have feelings of denial that what we’re experiencing is real. We should expect to feel angry. It’s likely that we’ll try to bargain or convince someone to do something that will return us to what we used to know. It’s totally normal that we feel depressed sometimes. And eventually, we will come to acceptance.
David Kessler, who worked with Kubler-Ross, has offered a 6th stage of grief for us to consider. Beyond anger, sadness, and even beyond acceptance, lies meaning. After experiencing a great personal loss, he was convinced there had to be something after acceptance. Through his own experience, he realized that after coming to accept that conditions and relationships have changed, there is great power and relief in finding meaning in that change.
Meaning-making takes time, both in investment and in passage. We are fortunate to have at our fingertips an exquisite tool to help us pick out clues to what we are finding and will find as meaningful in this extraordinary experience. The Examen is a gift from St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. It’s a daily prayer that helps us recognize God’s presence in our everyday lives. God is present with us, even—maybe especially—in the midst of the uncertainty.
The prayer follows a simple five-step formula:
- Remember that you are in God’s presence
- Be grateful for a few things that happened today
- Review your day, noticing where you have felt joy or difficulty—no matter how big or small
- Ask forgiveness and healing for mistakes and hurts you may have caused
- Seek God’s grace for tomorrow
The Examen is part of our shared Jesuit heritage. When answers are in short supply and there’s no stopping the deluge of questions, it’s easy to feel lost (I suppose it’s even easy to doubt seasonal change despite the undeniable evidence). However, the Examen, with its humble rhythm and disarming simplicity, helps us locate the ground beneath our feet. Practiced with regularity, the fruit of this prayer is like breadcrumbs that lead us, one by one, out of the depths of grief, to the light of acceptance, and then onto the open plains of meaning.
Grief is messy. And we’re all in it. We, and all of our students with us, are challenged to find meaning in our unexpected circumstances. And hidden in that challenge to find meaning is a great gift. We can’t stop the grief from happening, nor should we try. But we can—when we’re ready—try to find meaning in this grief that we share. The Examen can help us—you and me—get there.
Dr. Michele Murray is Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at College of the Holy Cross.
Photo credit Jeanne Rosenberger