Welcome back to Marquette! I hope your summers were fruitful and restful. As we embark on what I hope will be a meaningful academic year, it’s important to remember that each and every one of us contributes to the kind of campus environment we create, both inside and outside the classroom. The words we choose, the compassion we show, the actions we take – they matter, perhaps now more than ever before.
By its very nature, a university is a place for dialogue, discussions and disagreements aimed at expanding knowledge. Diversity of viewpoints is imperative to a healthy college experience – one in which you will be challenged and in turn, grow.
As a community, we collectively have much more work to do to make our campus more diverse and inclusive. I have a role in this growth process, as do you. The pursuit of excellence must mean that we do not shy away from change and challenges but instead seek out opportunities to grow and evolve. This is core to our Jesuit, Catholic mission.
In his article “Sanctuary for the Heart,” Rev. Howard Gray, S.J., discusses the role of Jesuit higher education in today’s society, where we are so easily at odds with one another. He paints a metaphor of learning as a sanctuary – a sacred space of refuge and protection. A place we can belong to and call “home.” He writes that “the adventure of education needs room to wander and to test possibilities” in order to allow for “the courage to explore the continents of knowledge no matter where these lead, the dedication to pursue research no matter the challenges it presents, the encouragement for young minds to explore new writers and new viewpoints.”
One of the ways to explore new viewpoints is through service to others. Marquette’s goal is to graduate students who will transform the world by living their lives as women and men for and with others. There are many ways students can engage in service for the betterment of our community, from student organizations to service learning courses to being a part of a university committee. Marquette’s annual Organization Fest and Community Service Fair is Wednesday, August 29 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the Central Mall. I encourage you to attend and to get involved.
My hope for all of us is that we approach this year with an open heart and a willingness to embrace new possibilities. I challenge you to receive and respond to your fellow students with compassion and generosity. Ask questions of each other with civility. Attentively listen to the response. Then, act from a more informed and loving place. This type of Ignatian interaction positively feeds the human spirit, which needs to be both nurtured and challenged.
Peace to you as you embark on this new academic year.
Dr. Xavier A. Cole
Vice President for Student Affairs