Jenny Loertscher - Professor of Chemistry and SU ADVANCE Project Team Member
Jen Tilghman-Havens - Director of the Center for Jesuit Education and SU ADVANCE Project Team Member
Jodi O’Brien - Professor of Sociology and Director of SU ADVANCE
The Magis calls us to find ways of instilling in our students that longing for more… that holy restlessness that leaves us dissatisfied and says that the way things are is not the way they have to be.Bryan Massingale, Seattle University Commitment to Justice Conference, August 2017
Magis is that principle that invites us to look for and work toward the greater and deeper good. Jesuit education is grounded in this principle of Magis and asks of faculty that we engage with our students and community in ways that will inspire this restless longing for that which lies beyond us. SU ADVANCE springs from the observation that we are at our best, as individual faculty and as a university, when our culture of the professoriate is in alignment with these Jesuit values. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced colleges and universities to rethink fundamental assumptions about higher education and has required an immediate restructuring of faculty members’ professional lives. Rather than simply waiting for our lives to return to “normal” we might ask, in the spirit of Magis, what could happen if we viewed this massive disruption as an opportunity to imagine a culture of the professoriate that is more inclusive, more equitable, and more firmly grounded in our shared values? How can we, as a Jesuit Catholic University, recognize the vibrant and vital diversity of faculty contributions in a way that will make our university stronger, more adaptable, and more equitable well into the future?
As faculty navigate these unprecedented waters and chart new directions forward, SU ADVANCE is engaging with institutional leaders to chronicle and coalesce these emergent developments with the intent of using these experiences as an institutional map for the future. Now, more than ever, it is crucial for our university to recognize and reward a broad range of faculty contributions, especially those that directly support the sustained viability of our distinctive educational mission. As we contemplate the immediate and long-term impacts of COVID-19, faculty are rightfully concerned about performance measures that may not fully and accurately reflect their actual contributions. SU ADVANCE is working to help in two ways:
These efforts are rooted in the foundational Jesuit values of cura personalis, care for the person, and cura apostolica, care for our shared work, and motivated by a spirit of knowing that we can do better in nurturing a more comprehensive culture of the professoriate. By recognizing faculty members’ integrated identity as teachers, scholars, community members, and leaders dedicated to making a difference, we make real our commitment to caring for the whole person. Through emphasizing the multifaceted richness of faculty life, we recognize the full humanity of faculty members and empower them to engage deeply in care for our students. Likewise, through changing faculty recognition structures and providing training related to holistic faculty formation, we strengthen our shared understanding of what is valued and valuable for the continued success of our institution.
Faculty are upholding these values in extraordinary ways through this unprecedented crisis. Rather than wait until we can return to “normal,” SU ADVANCE recognizes this moment as an occasion to learn from and articulate new directions as we move into a future. This is an opportunity for a paradigm shift to fully value and count the faculty work that is at the heart of Jesuit education. Most importantly, this work gives us hope and provides a north star in uncertain times.