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President's Notes 1.2July 28, 2011
Summer relaxation and spontaneity are to be cherished. Take July 19, for example. Associate Professor Lauress Wilkins and others decided to create a pleasant interlude by rousing available faculty and staff to put up a collaborative picnic barbecue beside St. Joseph’s Hall. Despite the heat of the afternoon, Peter Schipelliti and Mike Stella cheerfully manned the grills, and a good time was had by all.
A number of us in the Metrowest STEM Education Network (MSEN) spent last Friday morning, July 22, at Framingham State at a MSEN Advisory Board meeting to create a strategic plan that cross-walks our regional higher education goals with the Commonwealth’s STEM plan and its implementation. One thing is very clear: Science, math and technology do not wait for any of us if we cannot get on board and help the rising generations to do the same.
Materials on changing education paradigms were handed out at the MESN meeting along with questions raised by Sir Ken Robinson in a graphic piece that became famous on YouTube a year ago. Robinson suggested that by treating students as factory products stamped out by an inflexible, repetitive and outdated production line, our current model of learning is stuck in the intellectual and economic culture of the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution. Yet the world has already changed, several times over! He asked questions like;
How do we educate our young people to take their place in the economies of the 21st century?
How do we pass on the cultural genes of our communities while being part of the process of globalization?
Why does the process of obtaining a college degree so often tend to marginalize everything our students think is important about themselves?
We at Regis began asking the first two questions over ten years ago, but maybe, like everyone else, we’ve been too cautious in the implementation of paradigm shifts. I am trying to catch up myself as I learn to use my iPad!
I am happy to say, however, that as a Catholic institution expressing the values of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston, our commitment to the education of the whole person makes the third question largely irrelevant. If Regis is Regis, we’re helping people center and develop both in themselves and in relation to society, and not marginalizing them in any way. Regis is about the student discovering a true self and growing intellectually, socially, emotionally and spiritually, a reminder that our mission pledges us to be student-centered and to pursue "excellence with gentleness."
Early this week (July 25 and 26) I had the opportunity to greet parents and over 270 incoming students at our Freshman Orientation program, out under the big tent in front of College Hall. An enthusiastic group of student orientation leaders and the capable staff of Student Life, including Dean Kara Kolomitz and Sister Rosemary Mulvihill, RSM, had designed and implemented the whole program. I had the pleasure of speaking, parent to parents, on what a college education is worth and whether it will take their daughters and sons where they need to go in the world. Along with others, I noted the performance data we have on Regis alums who are judges, lawyers, nurses, doctors, business people, teachers, scholars, coaches, artists, entrepreneurs, the mainstay of government agencies, faith communities, and families. To the incoming students I observed how much the college experience is an opportunity for personal as well as intellectual growth -- yet only 6 out of 10 high school graduates take advantage of this unique opportunity. So seize the day and enter into the experience wholeheartedly.
Success of the "Case for Growth"
It is with great excitement that we will be welcoming one of the largest undergraduate classes to Regis in the autumn – and our largest number ever of graduate students. An increasing number of undergrads are also choosing to pursue our Pathways model and attend graduate school at Regis. In general, in fact, we can expect to see more grad students on the Regis campus as a trend. To support graduate growth we’re looking at ways to make the graduate experience here more astute, affirming and accessible.
Meanwhile, a very special group of adult learners on campus this summer – the Haitian nursing faculty who form the first cohort in our international nursing education initiative – were featured in a Boston Globe article this past Sunday. The group was also written about by Manolia Charlotin in The Boston Haitian Reporter.
Plans for the Fall
The success of higher education at Regis, of course, is due to the faculty and staff. Associate Professor Julia Lisella of the English and Theatre Department tells me that she and Steve Hall, Director of the Fine Arts Center, have lined up the writers for the Regis “Writers Read Series” for the fall and spring. On Wednesday, October 12, fiction writer Joy Jordan Lake will read and participate in a Creative Writing Seminar for students. Lake has one novel out about race relations in the South and another novel on the way. She writes non-fiction as well, with a Christian and new age bent, in the Anne La Mott tradition. Lake hails from Nashville. Then on February 28, coinciding with a Regis Poetry Workshop, poet Andrea Cohen will be reading. She has just released her second book of poetry and is also well known locally as the curator of the Blacksmith Poetry Series.
Professor Mary Anne Vetterling of the Spanish Department has arranged to hold the regional Christianity and Literature Conference here at Regis October 21-23. The topic, she says, is Ecocriticism and Christianity in Literature, “a relatively new and interdisciplinary way of looking at literature that has been gaining in popularity.” Faculty and staff interested in submitting a paper proposal should submit a 250 word abstract to Mary Anne no later than August 5, 2011. Papers can be from any period of literature and on works of literature written in languages other than English but all papers must embrace an ecocritical approach in the context of Christianity. Participants must be current members of the Conference on Christianity and Literature. Graduate and undergraduate students are encouraged to participate.
And Dr. Amy Anderson and her advisory committee for the Regis College Leadership Series on Health have also arranged their topics and speakers for the coming year. On Wednesday, October 26, there will be a discussion on “End of Life Issues: Decision, Cost, and Ethical Dilemmas” presented by B. Lachlan Forrow, MD, from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Division of General Medicine and Primary Care; Eric Schultz, MBA, President/CEO, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care; Andrea Vicini, SJ, MD, PhD, Visiting Associate Professor in Theology, Boston College; and Daniel P. Gorman, FNP-C, MSN, OCN, CRNI, Family Nurse Practitioner, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and I shall moderate the panel. Future panels will include discussion of “The Emotional and Physical Cost of Sports Injuries” (Wednesday, November 16), an update on Massachusetts Health Care Reform Law and National Health Care Reform (Wednesday, March 28, 2012) and an update on Cardiac Treatment for Women and Men (Wednesday, April 25, 2012).
On this note, I am very pleased to announce that, for the second time, the National League Of Nursing has named Regis College a center of excellence in nursing education (2011-2015). Special thanks go to Marie McCarthy, Kathleen Erickson, Janet Jones, and Dr. Nancy Bittner who prepared the application. This is a well deserved recognition of the incredible nursing programs at Regis College.
The next President’s Notes should come out on August 11. Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to joining alums for their annual luncheon on the Cape on August 4 at the New Seabury Country Club in Mashpee.