Saint Vincent College is an academic community that is inherently and profoundly shaped by its Catholic, Benedictine values and its rich heritage. Guided by the monks of its sponsoring organization, Saint Vincent Archabbey, the community is comprised of dedicated faculty, staff, students and alumni working together in pursuit of scholarly knowledge, a deeper understanding of God’s purpose for our lives and service to the local, national and global community.
The Committee was guided by consideration of three critical points of emphasis to be infused into each of the major goals identified for the school during this time period. Those points of emphasis are:
In order to give this strategic plan coherence and consistency, and to have it embody the driving spirit of the College expressed in the great rallying cry of our Founder “Forward, always forward,” each segment expresses how the various aspects of the experience we hope to provide our students will give them the promise of a better, more meaningful life. That spirit focuses all of us on the betterment of a College community that will instill pride in those who work here and commitment in those students we hope will join us in the collaborative effort to carry on the tradition of Saint Vincent College as an institution of higher learning in the service of the common good of society.
Who are the students we hope to attract?
The Seven Aspects of a Better, More Meaningful Life
This Committee’s expression of the strategic vision is rendered by relating its theme to the structure of the existing plan in seven separate categories of campus life. While distinct, these sections reflect the common threads of the points of emphasis and the commitment of those who are stewards of this institution to bring the traditions of its past forward for a new generation.
These themes are Spirituality, Leadership in One’s Field, Global and Diverse Perspective, Social Justice, Life Skills, Institutional Integrity and Ongoing Commitment.
To share an understanding of the student’s place in an institution that manifests the uniquely Benedictine charism of Saint Vincent and embraces values that have been historically identified as constituting a uniquely Benedictine institution, including community, hospitality, charity and stewardship. Acting upon that understanding will fundamentally enrich the quality of their lives.
Encourage students in their own search for God: a spiritual journey, a quest for ultimate meaning, a relation to the universe which involves coming to terms with their own concept of purpose or value that will give deeper meaning to their lives. Affirm that while each person must make this search, it is a search made within a supportive, nourishing community that is, as a community, also committed to undertaking a journey of the spirit. This journey must welcome everyone as a participant.
Establishing meaningful benchmarks for the achievement of spiritual growth presents a unique challenge since its evaluation is beyond the measurements of the empirical sciences. For example, a grade in a theology course is an evaluation of a student’s understanding of a particular religious tradition, not an evaluation of the student’s faith-practice of that religion. Whether a student truly seeks God or truly puts the interest of another before his/her own is a matter of conscience, judgment of which is solely a divine prerogative. What can be measured are incidences of unacceptable behavior which have a harmful effect in the Community. Reports of theft, cheating, drug or alcohol abuse, sexual assaults, vandalism, violence and the like must be acted upon by the administration in cooperation with civil authorities with due process in a timely manner to safeguard the common good. This benchmark focusing on tracking and dealing with unacceptable behavior seems essential for safeguarding a peaceful social environment conducive to our students' search for a better, more academically and spiritually meaningful life.
The benchmarking process should also note the positive initiatives that foster an appreciation of Catholic, Benedictine values.
Goal One: The College must ensure that from the core curriculum each student derives: a) the essence of the Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts and sciences tradition of the institution; b) an appreciation of critical thinking, fluency, collaboration, and creativity; c) a striving for the integration of knowledge into a larger structure.
Means: A well-represented, standing committee should evaluate the existing core curriculum.
Benchmark: That committee should issue an annual report assessing the effectiveness of the core curriculum in achieving the goals set forth suggesting ways in which new technologies or methodologies could be employed to enhance the value of the core curriculum.
Goal Two: Develop new major fields of study to serve the needs of current students and those we seek to attract, always ensuring that no new program is adopted unless it can offer the students the foundational element of the Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts and sciences tradition unique to Saint Vincent College. Assess whether existing programs should be restructured, consolidated or eliminated where more effective use of the academic resources of the institution could be employed consistent with our overall mission.
Means: Through careful collaboration with the Admissions Office and community partners, and with awareness of the paths taken by recent graduates, the academic leadership of the College should identify new areas for curricular development that will serve student needs and be financially stable and sustainable components of the College program. Having determined such areas, however, equally careful attention must be paid to providing students in those new majors with the full benefit of the foundational values of the school as expressed in Goal One above.
Benchmark: While there may be no timetable placed on the modification of the curriculum, the College must set into place processes to allow for the means described above to occur on an ongoing basis.
Goal Three: Each academic department must ensure that its majors are presented with a challenging and in-depth curriculum so that they may be fully prepared for the phase of their life that will begin upon their graduation from Saint Vincent.
Means Applicable to Each Goal in Section B:
In seeking to serve the students through the three major goals identified above, officials of the College should assess whether structural changes in the current academic program might enhance the core curriculum, the development of effective new programs and the solidification of the rigorous quality of each major course of study. Structural changes that should be assessed include an examination of the current two semester model and the alignment of the majors under the current configuration of the four Schools.
Goal One: To prepare our students for meaningful life and work in a globally diverse world, one in which they are likely to engage with individuals, cultures and governments that differ in perspective and context from their own, whether they are employed by companies that do business in global markets or engage in professions which present them with issues that demand a global perspective. To imbue in them the sense that the traditional Catholic, Benedictine values will be invaluable to them in whatever venue their life leads. To help them embrace the call of Pope Francis to view the world as “Our Common Home.”
Goal Two: To be a community that reflects the diversity in the family of God.
A yearly assessment and tracking of these categories and outcomes should be maintained to ensure that we are making regular and sustained progress on these dimensions.
Goal: To help our students understand:
Those working on specific social justice issues and programs across campus will be best able to propose appropriate benchmarks for monitoring our progress. Without setting artificial standards, we must hope that the discussion of the teaching of Laudato Si’ will continue and expand, that more opportunities will be made available for students to engage in charitable activities throughout the community, and that our employment practices will reflect the institution’s commitment to these principles. In this regard, diversity is not to be sought merely for diversity sake; rather, it is to reflect our commitment to listen with the ears of our hearts to a chorus of the voices that cut across the boundaries of all humankind.
Goal One: To offer the students a variety of opportunities to enjoy physical health while in college and acquire healthful lifestyle habits for their future wellbeing.
Goal Two: Provide the students with a range of psychological support to promote a safe and supportive environment in which students can confront intellectual challenges, explore new emotional situations, chart their future with self-confidence and pride, and learn the benefits of a life balanced among work, spirituality, exercise and leisure.
Goal Three: Encourage students to learn and exercise leadership skills. Emphasize that leaders must exhibit the capacity for hard work and a keen understanding that service to others is at the heart of leadership.
Make leadership training part of a general offering of health and wellness programs so that all students are encouraged to find the confidence and courage to take up positions of service and responsibility. This training must emphasize the skills of collaboration and respect for others as critical elements of the process of teamwork in which the leader functions.
Benchmark for All Goals in Section E:
The senior leadership of the College must develop an integrated way in which to balance various indicators to achieve the overall goals of this Strategic Plan. Among the relevant indicators are those listed below, along with the individual(s) most directly responsible for helping to set and achieve each, interrelated component:
Goal Two: Address infrastructure needs by wisely managing resources to support the challenges of traditional Catholic social teaching.
Goal Three: Through employment practices, to demonstrate to our students that an effective and efficient organization can attract a diverse and competent population of employees and promote a welcoming and collaborative working environment among everyone in the institution.
Goal: Establish programming for current students and alumni that builds upon and integrates the core, foundational values of Saint Vincent as a Catholic Benedictine College of the liberal arts and sciences, which will then serve as the framework to keep our students connected to Saint Vincent College after graduation.
Examples could include assistance at admissions recruiting fairs, job fairs and activities aimed at building a culture of philanthropy among students while still at Saint Vincent that carries on after graduation.
Once programming has been set up, Saint Vincent can then measure the effectiveness by tracking alumni and student attendance at events, involvement in recruiting students to Saint Vincent through the Alumni Grant, gifts to the College and involvement on campus after graduation.
The Alumni Director will monitor these programs and keep track of their efficacy.