Every year a number of students travel to Italy for spring break with Paul Murphy, Ph.D., professor of history and vice president for university mission and identity, to see the wonders of Rome and tie those experiences to classroom learning. As the students gathered in Saint Peter’s Square this year, a quick-thinking Katie Wilczewski ’15 snapped a picture of Katie Marshaus ’15 holding up a John Carroll T-shirt that read, “I Love Jesuits.” The picture perfectly captured Pope Francis, our first Jesuit pontiff, giving an enthusiastic thumbs up to the message. This priceless digital moment was uploaded to John Carroll’s social media sites, and within hours, the picture was viewed more than 35,000 times and liked, shared, and retweeted throughout the world. It was exciting for our students to experience such an indelible moment. As a way to analyze and reflect about the energy surrounding Pope Francis and his affect on people, the Cardinal Suenens Center at John Carroll hosted a conference in March called The Papacy: One Year Later, which you can read about in this issue’s cover story.
Pope Francis has helped the world achieve a better understanding of what it means to be Jesuit, a topic that’s being explored thoughtfully on campuses like ours. Specific to Carroll, how will we carry out our mission of learning, leadership, and service? The answer: Empower everyone. Even though the board of directors has confidently extended my term to 2020, we must plan for the long term. As such, I have invested a significant amount of time educating our board of directors, faculty, staff, alumni, friends, and other key stakeholders about our Jesuit character and identity because they will be entrusted to keep the tradition alive for generations to come. Presently, there are nine Jesuit colleges and universities with lay presidents – and there will be more – but I am pleased to see how well this transition is taking place throughout the country. Through the Ignatian Colleagues Program, for example, we now have 12 Carroll administrators well trained to carry on the Jesuit mission.
Our legacy of excellence continues to unfold in all areas, including our Jesuit character. Several of our athletic programs have enjoyed a record-setting year, and despite the weather (spring is in the air finally), significant campus projects, such as the renovation of Murphy Hall, are proceeding on time and on budget. Furthermore, our faculty and staff continue to inspire minds, transform lives, and nurture our students to thrive – it is the Jesuit way. As reunion approaches, I hope you visit campus or follow us online to become part of our University experience. In the spirit of our campaign theme, we are blessed to be Forever Carroll.
Yours in Christ,
Robert L. Niehoff, S.J.