Inspirational change

On Nov. 22, 2016, our nationally recognized football team did something it had not done in 27 years – it beat Mount Union! I will never forget sharing that exhilarating victory with our players, coaches, and alumni. The game was part of one of the most successful seasons in the history of the program, as it reached the semifinal round of the NCAA tournament and was named Collegiate Athlete of the Year at the 17th Annual Greater Cleveland Sports Awards ceremony. Although we bade farewell to head coach Tom Arth ’03, who moved on to a Division I program, we welcomed new head coach Rick Finotti. I know Finotti’s track record of successful teaching and ethical leadership will help us build on our fine tradition and continue competing as one of the top Division III programs in the country. Finotti’s local ties to St. Edward High School, coupled with his experience at the University of Michigan, will serve him well. The University is eager to support him, the students, and the new assistant coaches, as well as promote attendance at the games.

I am equally enthusiastic to welcome Patrick Mullane, our new assistant vice president and executive director of the Center for Career Services. With his arrival, the center will work more closely with the deans of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Boler School of Business to enhance the overall services, programs, and outreach for students and alumni. I have high expectations for the center and how it, as well as our alumni mentoring and networking, will enhance the student experience.

As a Jesuit university well positioned to lead discussions about peace and race, I invited The Most Reverend Edward Braxton, Ph.D., Bishop of Belleville, Illinois, to campus this past month to share his thoughts about the implications of the Black Lives Matter movement for the Catholic Church and John Carroll. He spoke to a capacity crowd. I encourage you to watch a replay of his presentation, which can be found here. I also encourage you to read his pastoral letter on the subject.

In response to recent media interest about the University’s namesake owning at least one slave, I convened a working group to help us learn about the historical record and recommend how we acknowledge this history and grow in our commitment to justice for all. Facing this history will be difficult for some, but relying on the grace of God, we will grapple with the truth of the past to help us address the circumstances of the present. Although we will not change the University’s name, we must examine our national legacy of racial justice and identify what we can do better to understand this history in its historical context. The University is committed to justice for everyone, locally and globally, and the hope for racial justice in Cleveland and beyond must be one of our core commitments. One of the working group’s tasks is to help our campus engage our national and Jesuit history and use that history to reenergize our commitment to form graduates who are more committed to living our Jesuit Catholic values in a way that helps them lead more meaningful, just lives. I anticipate the group’s recommendations for our campus next fall.

Finally, I invite you back to campus this summer to attend your much-celebrated reunion, June 23-25, as well as the World Union of Jesuit Alumni Congress 2017, June 28 through July 2. This congress is the first one to be held in the United States, and we are thrilled to host it on our beautiful campus. The event brings together current and former students and friends of Jesuit schools and universities throughout the world to build international relationships, contribute to and enhance the mission of the Society of Jesus, and promote Jesuit education. I hope to see many of you at this prominent global event.

May God inspire us as we work to better the world.

Robert L. Niehoff, S.J.

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