Hiring for the Jesuit, Catholic Dimension of our Mission



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Hiring for the Jesuit, Catholic Dimension of our Mission

  • Mark Bosco, S.J.
  • Associate Professor of English and Theology
  • Director, The Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage

Loyola University: Catholic and Jesuit

  • A Catholic University: one of 260 Catholic institutions of higher learning in the USA.
  • Inspired by and given its foundation through a Catholic intellectual tradition that cherishes, studies, and transmits the classical treasures of human history and culture.
  • An academic endeavor where faith and reason do not conflict.
  • Retains a strong sense that knowledge and wisdom contribute to the common good—manifested in an array of academic fields—theology, philosophy, ethics,
  • but also in the arts, sciences, and professions.

Loyola University: Catholic and Jesuit

  • Jesuit: The Society of Jesus
  • 18,000-plus Catholic priests and brothers who live in community inspired by Ignatian spirituality and work in missions of the religious order.
  • Work as teachers, administrators, pastors, chaplains, but also doctors, lawyers, astronomers.
  • Work with lay colleagues in high-schools, colleges and universities in Jesuit institutions, but also parishes, retreat houses and refugee centers around the globe.

The Difficulties and Cultural Reductionism about things “Catholic”

  • There are things not to celebrate about being Catholic:
  • Sexual abuse scandal among its leadership.
  • Periods of intellectual narrowness and resistance to ideas worthy of consideration.
  • A tradition that is too often experienced as alienating to women and persons of same-sex orientation.
  • There are cultural reductionisms about Catholicism that exist in academia:
  • Only interested in contraception, abortion, and same sex marriage.
  • Stands opposed to science and reason.
  • It is a dying discourse of modernity.

The Strengths of Catholic Intellectual Heritage

  • An affirmation of an objective reality of the human will, human reason, truth, morality, beauty, dignity and goodness.
  • A profound and articulated concern for human well-being, the creation and maintenance of just societies, a concern for the common good, human rights, the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed—all concerns that nurture the idealism of our students. Here one sees the concern for “social justice” that is a cornerstone of Jesuit Catholic education.
  • A commitment to the idea that faith and reason are mutually informing rather than antagonistic. One can be intelligent about one’s religious beliefs. Questions and commitments of faith are of real importance to the university and that interest reaches beyond the study of theology.
  • An embrace of the symbolic, interpretive, and meaning-creating aspects of the human species. The Catholic intellectual tradition is rich in music, literature and poetry, architecture and art. It is inclined toward a full embrace of a Christian humanism that sees nothing in the world as alien to or distant from God. This is what is described as a “sacramental imagination.”
  • A “Jesuit” or “Ignatian” style of education has flourished for 450 years.

The Jesuit and Catholic Educational Piece at Loyola

  • From the Transformative Education in the Jesuit Tradition document, Loyola’s understanding of its mission:
    • All of Loyola’s undertakings—its teaching, research and service—are infused with a conviction regarding the sacred character of reality, the dignity of every human person, the mutually informing dynamic between faith and reason, and the responsibility to care for those who are suffering most in our world. Loyola’s pedagogy is informed by the conviction that faith, knowledge and the promotion of justice are intrinsically related.

A 21st century Core: Transformative Education in the Jesuit Tradition

  • A must read for all search committees!!
  • http://www.luc.edu/transformativeed/
  • A hunger for Integrated Knowledge
  • A hunger for a Moral Compass
  • A hunger for Civic Participation
  • A hunger for a Global Paradigm
  • A hunger for an Adult Spirituality

Mission Hiring Option 1: Sifting

  • Sifting: We advertise and wait for people to come.
  • Vet curriculum vitae and search for teaching and/or publications that demonstrate a sensitivity to:
    • Large human questions of purpose and meaning.
    • Religious sensitivity and embrace of religious/transcendent questions.
    • Engagement with any aspect of the Catholic intellectual tradition.
    • Concern for questions of ethics and justice.
  • Interview candidates with explicit mention of the school’s Jesuit heritage and its Catholic identity as a resource
  • for pedagogical success, scholarly conversation and
  • research.

Mission Hiring Option 2: Search

  • Search/Targeted Hire: Engage in an active recruitment of persons that a chair should invite to apply.
  • Personal knowledge of colleagues in your field is the best way of recruiting such candidates.
  • Information gleaned at professional conferences in conversations or hearing papers and presentations on topics that mesh with the Jesuit, Catholic dimension of our mission.
  • Promising graduate students from the institutions at which you trained or from institutions known for their sense of mission, who may be interested in working particularly for us because of who we are as a Jesuit and Catholic university.

What Could You Look For?

  • Scholarship, teaching, or service that engages moral/ethical questions within their field?
  • Scholarship, teaching, or service that engages humanistic questions?
  • A commitment to teaching that is not an afterthought to one’s commitment to research?
  • A commitment to teaching that includes mentorship and an interest in intellectual and moral formation, service, and care of the student as a person?
  • A personal stake in questions of the transcendent and what it means for how we think of one’s life and work?

Practical Considerations

  • Helpful to designate a person—the person most friendly toward and knowledgeable of these questions—responsible for making sure that mission questions are asked and discussed in a way that moves past the perfunctory and can frame this as a strength of the institution.
    • Not a gateway that well-qualified candidates have to pass through.
    • Needs to be a conversation, not a litmus test.
  • Helpful to make sure that we communicate that such a conversation is actually welcome; some applicants will be reluctant to speak about these issues for fear that it could hurt their candidacy. We need to encourage them to see this as part of the process at Loyola.
  • Helpful to consider requesting an essay in response to something like the Transformative Education document in which faculty would be invited to articulate how and where they see themselves contributing concretely to this dimension of the university’s mission.

Concluding Thoughts

  • Candidates’ scholarly and research agenda is the threshold issue.
  • We are interested in seeking candidates who are drawn to us on account of the Jesuit, Catholic dimension of our mission and identity, not simply tolerant of it and certainly not hostile to it. This may show up in their teaching, research, extra-curricular commitments, or conversation.
  • We are interested in finding candidates who are interested in being participants in the life of the university rather than delimiting their allegiance and obligations to their field and guild. This is a necessary component for preserving and strengthening our sense of being an intellectual community.
  • Hiring for the Jesuit, Catholic dimension of the university is an exercise in diversity insofar as it contributes to intellectual diversity in higher education.

What we are being asked to consider in participating in a Jesuit institution:

  • To understand, respect, and foster the notion that corporate religion and personal spirituality often inspire us to become human agents for just living.
  • To find a vision of teaching and colleagueship that fosters a common horizon of the good, the true, and the beautiful—terms that, in the Christian faith, are names for God, but are ideas that can be comprehended and affirmed beyond religion.


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