George emphasizes global solidarity

By Diana Campeggio
September 28, 2010

President Marie Angelella George enlightened families and students on how the revised mission statement encapsulates Cabrini’s globally aware curriculum.

She described how the faculty is fulfilling Cabrini’s identity and, according to George, how the changes in the mission better describe the kind of education the students of Cabrini will obtain in their four years of attendance.

“To really provide the type of education that will prepare our students, we have to be an inclusive, diverse community,” George said during her recent address, “not only in the members here, but in what we are reading and studying and the perspectives that are brought to the fore as we look at complex issues.”

George spoke to students, families, faculty and staff in the Grace Hall Atrium on Sept. 25 during the family weekend event.

The revised mission statement, which continues to be titled “Education of the Heart,” describes Cabrini’s desire to create an educational experience that develops students into global citizens.

“How do we open the doors and windows to the classroom so that students become engaged and begin to know what it means to be an engaged citizens,” George said.

Cabrini has always prided itself in creating an education in which students can become worldwide citizens, no matter what background or religious faith they come from, and the mission statement now encompasses that idea. “We want our students to be active and engaged citizens of the world. The world is their stage,” George said.

“It really hit home.” Maria Rucci, a freshman parent who attended the event, said. “It’s not only what she wants for her students but what I, as a parent, want for my child.”

She also continued to stress the importance the faculty and staff’s various roles in fostering the mission through dialogue, learning, teaching and action.  According to George, the 70 full-time faculties and over 100 adjunct faculties are the force behind Cabrini’s mission.  “They are scholars in their own right,” George said.

Cabrini faculties spend time outside of their scheduled classes to learn and improve their own knowledge of the mission statement.

“We’re doing stuff in terms of our own faculty development, so a lot of what we do behind the scenes that students don’t see is educating ourselves about the Cabrinian mission,” English professor Michelle Filling, who was in attendance at the address, said in a recent telephone interview.

Faculties at Cabrini focus on bringing their knowledge of the mission into their teachings both in and outside the classroom; they are the living the mission through their teachings everyday.  According to Filling, many faculty members are involved with LLC (Living and Learning Communities) and co-curricular and departmental projects that connect with the meaning of the mission.  These involvements better their understanding as well as those they are teaching.

During the summer, George announced her two-year initiative to better integrate the mission campus wide.  In this initiative, George hopes to springboard from the mission and give attention to how the faculty and staff will use their roles to promote and discover the “Catholic Cabrinian Identity.”

“The emphasis was less on statists and more on what is emotionally, mentally, and psychologically going on around campus,” Stephanie Iaccarino, senior English and secondary education major, said.  “Statistics can be accessed online or in a PDF but what is really happening can only be encapsulated in talking and conversing.”

Though this will eventually include students, currently the initiative is more focused on the faculty and staff driving the mission.

The “justice matters” curriculum as well as partnerships with both the city of Norristown and worldwide organizations such as Catholic Relief Services, helps build a student that is worldly beyond just their particular major.

The mission statement also works hand-in-hand with the core curriculum that was updated in recent years.  The curriculum helps to promote globally thinking students within the classroom that are responding to social justice issues.

“We want to graduate students here that are not just great mathematicians or not just great criminalists,” Dr. Jeff Gingerich, dean for Academic Affairs, said during his speech, “but people who are really well rounded and who could become leaders in society.”

According to Gingerich, this curriculum hopes to develop students into critic thinkers, lifelong learners, global citizens, affective communicators, and develop excellence in both discipline and social justice issues.

“It’s a great program and people don’t know enough about it,” Iaccarino said, “and therefore, it needs to be represented well because if it’s not, people may be turned off by it.”

According to George, one of Cabrini’s goals is to go to organizations and individuals that may need aid and offer their services to help them voluntarily.

“We are not the kind of college that stays within the classroom and remains inside the ivory tower,” George said.

Within the education department, a new focus is being placed on educating educators in how to deal and recognize children that are experiencing domestic violence in their homes.  According to George, statistics say that one in four families are experiencing domestic violence in their household.

The “Child as Witness” program puts Cabrini in the forefront of this worldwide issue and are the first college to put this issue on the radar.  They have been active in traveling to neighboring schools to teach how to address this serious social issue.

The campus ministry department also promotes several events and retreats that integrate students into the world around them. According to Sister Christine Baltas from campus ministry, the office offers many opportunities that are always offered for students to travel off-campus and even across the world to complete service projects, but encourage anyone’s ideas.

“A student may come on campus with a particular interest or passion,” Baltas said, “and if it’s something that could fit appropriately into what campus minister offers, then it’s not like the package is sealed and closed. We are open to new ideas, suggestions, and new adventures.”

Diana Campeggio

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