Jesuit Mission Priority Examen Results Released

Father McCarthy, S.J., vice president of mission integration and planning, sent a university-wide email with the results of the Jesuit Mission Priority Examen (Courtesy of Twitter).

Father McCarthy, S.J., vice president of mission integration and planning, sent a university-wide email with the results of the Jesuit Mission Priority Examen (Courtesy of Twitter).

By Theresa Schliep

Father McCarthy, S.J., vice president of mission integration and planning, sent a university-wide email with the results of the Jesuit Mission Priority Examen (Courtesy of Twitter).

Fr. Michael McCarthy, S.J., vice president of Mission Integration and Planning, released the Mission Priority Examen Self-Study and the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) Visiting Team Report. The Mission Priority Examen is completed by all 28 Jesuit universities to “reflect on how they are doing as a Jesuit university,” according to McCarthy.

The Visiting Team Report recommended the Society of Jesus reaffirm its relationship with Fordham, which it did, according to an email from McCarthy to the university community.

The Self Study report spans over 40 pages, while the Visiting Team Report extends to over ten. They cover the university’s mission as a Jesuit institution and how it interacts with facets of university life, such as campus culture, academics, and service.

“Fordham University aims to be the model urban Jesuit university of the 21st century,” reads the report.
The process started in 2016 when Fr. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the university, appointed a Mission Priority Steering Committee of 10 members. The committee’s responsibility was to create a report on the university. McShane said the study should be based on AJCU standards.

The report used seven characteristics to evaluate the university: leadership commitment to the university, academic life, a Jesuit catholic campus culture, service, service to the local church, Jesuit presence and integrity.

Through these characteristics, the examen developed four priorities. First, the examen proposed that the university outline a “much more comprehensive and strategic plan” for ensuring that faculty, staff and board members understand Fordham’s Jesuit Catholic mission. Second, it recommended the university incorporate diversity more into its mission and identity. Third, expanding the influence of Jesuits in the Fordham community. Fourth, it encourages improving the programs in service learning.

In reference to the second point, McCarthy said diversity is a part of Fordham’s Jesuit Catholic identity.

“In making a strong connection between mission/identity and diversity, we are insisting that we NOT think: ‘Fordham strives for diversity, even though it is a Jesuit, Catholic university,’ but ‘Fordham strives for diversity BECAUSE it’s a Jesuit, Catholic university.’”

In reference to the fourth point, McCarthy said the service learning program is “relatively small” in comparison to other Jesuit universities.
“The Mission Priority Examen helped us realize that we need to be better in this area,” said McCarthy.

There is a Faculty Task Force, as a result, studying and making recommendations to service learning at Fordham.

“At its best, service learning expands the walls of the classroom, gives students a much deeper encounter with either the communities of the Bronx or those in Manhattan, and gives them an opportunity to make a useful contribution to members of the community,” said McCarthy.

According to the AJCU visiting team, their report was largely complementary to the self report, and both arrived to the same conclusion.

“In many ways, the authors of the self-study have done our work for us, we thus are happy to accompany a journey already undertaken, sharing our observations in a collegial spirit,” read the report.

The Visiting Team Report came to its conclusions through a series of on-campus conversations with Fordham University faculty, staff, students, senior administration and trustees in the Spring.

The Steering Committee met regularly to create its self-study and met with 13 focus groups. They included undergraduates at Rose Hill and Lincoln Center, graduate students, faculty and deans.

The Steering Committee found itself within a national climate that permeated the university environment.

“As we carried out the work of the Mission Priority Examen, we found ourselves in the context of our own troubling reality: a national election whose campaigns and outcomes revealed severe cultural divisions within the country,” read the report. “In addition to larger social tension, we also find ourselves in a context of higher education that is often contentious and full of many fears.”

The Steering Committee was comprised of eight staff and faculty members from the university.