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Division for Mission seeks student input

Liz Harter | Tuesday, March 7, 2006

A representative from the Saint Mary’s Division for Mission told Board of Governance [BOG] members Monday that the Division is seeking student input on the importance of having Catholic faculty at the College.

Mission commissioner and Saint Mary’s senior Jenny Robbins said the Division – an administrative body of the College – is examining College hiring practices, and she asked BOG members whether Catholic professors are vital to Saint Mary’s Catholic identity.

Robbins said the Division is evaluating how the religious affiliation of professors affects the mission of the College but has no immediate plans to institute a quota for Catholic professors.

“[The Division for Mission] wants me to be able to report on what the student body thinks about this,” Robbins said Monday.

Many Catholic institutions require a certain percentage of their faculty to be Catholic. While Saint Mary’s does not have such a policy, Notre Dame requires that 50 percent of its faculty be Catholic, Robbins said.

“I think if you make a requirement like that, … it gets sticky,” student body president Kellye Mitros said.

Some people are baptized Catholic but never attend mass, Mitros said. Others, while not official members of the Church, are knowledgeable about Catholic principles.

Student body vice president Susan McIlduff said a quota system could disqualify otherwise excellent candidates.

“If you are doing it just to [maintain] the status quo, you might not be benefiting the College,” McIlduff said.

Treasurer Jillian Waters reminded members that Saint Mary’s students do not have to be Catholic and that non-Catholic applicants might be turned off by an overwhelmingly Catholic faculty.

The Catholic identity of the College is not at risk, Student Diversity Board president Amanda Shropshire said. She said having only a Catholic perspective in the classroom limits intellectual growth.

“It is a fact you learn very different things in different ways when you have different people [in the classroom],” Shropshire said.

Senior class president Lauren Condon said any variation in perspective, even in the religious affiliation of professors, is a positive addition to the College.

“I think if we are going to look at hiring issues, we need to look at diversifying,” Condon said.

A professor’s religious beliefs are less significant in certain subject matters, junior class president Heidi Goeppinger said in clarification. She said religion rarely becomes a point of discussion, for example, in her science classes.

Condon requested the discussion be tabled until Robbins could provide the Board with more concrete information.

In other BOG news:

u EMX sweatshirts and sweatpants are being sold in the Student Center this week and the week after Spring Break. Sold together, the items are $50 this week and $55 the week following the break. Freshman class president Francesca Johnson said all proceeds will go to Riley Hospital for Children.

u Student Diversity Board president Amanda Shropshire said the Student Diversity Board will sell daffodils in the Student Center from March 20 to March 24. All proceeds will go towards a new Diversity Scholarship Fund.