A Trustee’s Perspective: “Mission-Rich Culture”

by Alexander Pierre | Apr 17, 2015
By David B. Haire ’71, Marian University Trustee

Currently, 4,599 degree-granting institutions exist in the United States. These are made up of public, private, liberal arts, and community colleges. Four-year institutions number 2,870, while two-year schools make up the remaining 1,729. Of this number, only 200 are identified as “Catholic” institutions. These Catholic colleges and universities share a Christian vision, reflect in the light of faith, have fidelity of tradition, and have a commitment to service. These four characteristics set these institutions apart from the other 4,599. Of the 200 Catholic institutions, only 24 are said to be “Franciscan.”

Although I have not visited the website of all degree-granting institutions, I believe that all say—in one way or another—that “quality education” is what you should expect by attending. Many will tout the possibility of a job and many others will speak about leadership, service, community involvement, character, opportunity, making a difference, and a variety of other noble attributes you should hope to gain by attending that particular school. Marian University is no different in that regard. But as we funnel down from 4,599 to 2,870 to 200 to 24, we begin to see the uniqueness of Marian University and what it offers. The fact that we are Franciscan is unique in and of itself, but the fact that we are the only higher education, degreegranting institution that was founded by and sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, Indiana makes us a one-of-a-kind institution.

As we move into the next planning phase and we begin to shape Marian University 2025, one thing has stood out more than others. The planning committee has made sure that in all things Marian University, our Franciscan mission and identity are boldly on display. The four sponsorship values of dignity of the individual, peace and justice, reconciliation, and responsible stewardship are at the forefront of every document, in every priority, and in every initiative.

Not only does Marian University’s vision see us graduating transformational leaders, but its mission must be that we educate our students in the Franciscan tradition. If we begin to see the graduates and future alumni with the same lens that people saw St. Francis, then we could see the future leaders as “…serene of mind, sweet of disposition, sober in spirit, raised up in contemplation, zealous in prayer, constant in purpose, stable in virtue, quick to pardon, slow to anger, tenacious of memory, understanding toward others, discreet in all things, and in all things simple,” which is how author Thomas of Celano (c. 1200-c. 1265) described St. Francis of Assisi. What a legacy that would be. Marian University has taken a giant step toward becoming a “mission-rich culture.” Our uniqueness is our biggest asset; it needs to be celebrated.

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