10/4/2013 - This Opinion Piece by Providence College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. on the value of a humanities/liberal arts education was published in the October 4, 2013 issue of The Providence Journal
9/18/2013 - A Message to the Providence College Community
At Providence College, we seek to create an environment characterized by openness, fairness, and equal access for all students, staff, and faculty. A welcoming and inclusive campus climate is grounded in mutual respect, nurtured by dialogue, and characterized by a pattern of civil interaction. Creating and maintaining a community environment that respects individual needs, abilities, and potential is critically important.
In different forums during the spring of 2013, I heard a number of concerns about issues related to diversity. At the time, I approved and encouraged the completion of a campus climate assessment to evaluate how different members of our community experience the current campus climate. To ensure full transparency and to provide a more complete and objective perspective, we have contracted with Rankin & Associates (R&A) to lead this effort in collaboration with the College’s Chief Diversity Officer, Rafael Zapata.
Dr. Susan Rankin has conducted over 100 campus climate assessments in her more than 35 years in the academy. R & A already has been working with PC’s Campus Climate Working Group, which is comprised of students, staff, and faculty, to develop the focus groups and protocols. The assessment will begin in the next few weeks.
The main goals of the project include the following: 1) to identify successful initiatives; 2) to uncover any challenges facing members of our community; and 3) to develop strategic initiatives to build on the successes and address the challenges. The results will be presented to the entire community in early 2014, and the Campus Climate Working Group will present me with a series of immediate, intermediate, and long-term action-item recommendations based on the survey results.
Assessing how members of our community experience Providence College’s climate will better enable us to develop programs and policies that will increase inclusivity in areas which are shown to be problematic and to replicate and enhance programs and policies in areas that are successfully meeting the needs of the community. The campus climate assessment will be the latest of our ongoing efforts to engage the College community in discussing these important issues.
I hope that you will join me in supporting this important project.
Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P.
5/19/2013 - Father Shanley's 2013 Commencement Mass Homily
"We recently welcomed back to campus an ’07 grad, Matthew Weber, to give a talk on his book Fearing the Stigmata. The arresting title arises out of a childhood experience. Matt was a fourth-grader in a Catholic grammar school looking at a picture book about the saints and noticed what he thought must be some typographical blotches on the picture of St. Francis of Assisi; he seemed to have a red blotch on his hands, his feet, and his side. So he went to the teacher and asked why. She explained that these were the stigmata that St. Francis shared in the wounds of Christ’s crucifixion. Matt asked why St. Francis got them, and the teacher replied “because he was good … a good Catholic.” Fearing the consequences of goodness and holiness, Matthew went home and immediately did a few small bad things so he would not wake up in the morning with blood gushing from this hands, feet, and side. Looking back on this childish response from adulthood, Matthew realizes that he has been struggling his whole life with the fear of being holy, and plagued by the question of how good did he really want to be and at what cost? I think it is a fear that we all struggle with. We are afraid of holiness because we know it will cost us something and we fear the changes that we would have to make in who we are. So we settle for mediocrity and relegate holiness to the religious professionals and heroic people in the Church."
Continue Reading the Homily →
5/9/2013 - A Message to the Providence College Community
from Fr. Brian J. Shanley, O.P.
I am pleased to report that we are currently enrolling the most diverse class ever recruited to Providence College. I commend Raul Fonts and his staff for this notable achievement. But we all know that embracing diversity, a strategic goal of the college, cannot be reduced to numbers. Our stated goal is to create “a campus climate that inspires respect and that provides support for the academic, social, and personal development of diverse students, faculty, and staff.” The events of this last semester indicate that we have much more work to do to create such a community climate.
In the past several weeks, a number of students and faculty have shared their perceptions of racism and intolerance. One faculty member received hateful and racist emails and texts. Many were offended by comments and responses about diversity in The Cowl. Racial graffiti was found in a residence hall. In a recent press conference and rally, students and faculty reported that they believe they were subjected to racial profiling on our campus. I have had opportunities to hear about these experiences directly from our students and faculty. I am saddened by what I have heard.
Racism in any form cannot be tolerated in our community. It is an evil that strikes against one of our deepest and most important core beliefs: that every human being is created equally yet diversely in the image of God. For those of us who are Christian, there is another core premise: every human being is our brother and sister in Christ. Racism is thus a sin that we need to eradicate from our campus.
“Embracing Diversity” is one of the five core values of the College’s Strategic Plan. A welcoming and inclusive campus climate is grounded in mutual respect, nurtured by dialogue, and evidenced by civil interactions. The incidents of the past semester have made it clear that we, as a community, have to work more diligently in achieving this goal. An authentic embrace of diversity can be accomplished only by the entire campus community working together.
We have already begun to take some additional steps to address the challenges. Even prior to the press conference and rally, we had arranged for extensive cultural competency training in early June for the members of the Office of Safety and Security. The training is designed to enhance skills in serving an increasingly diverse campus community; the primary goals are to raise awareness about personal bias, prejudice, and stereotypes, and to show how these attitudes can affect professional practice. The training will be conducted by a member of the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service. Additional trainings for faculty, staff, and students will be explored more closely after this initial session is completed. We all need to come to terms with the subtle and insidious ways that racial bias can impact our perceptions and interactions.
The Offices of Institutional Diversity, Student Affairs, and the General Counsel are developing a Bias Response Protocol and will establish a collaborative response team to address incidents of bias in a timely and comprehensive manner. In addition, the Division of Student Affairs and several faculty members, with the support of the Offices of Institutional Diversity and Academic Affairs, are developing a pilot initiative for the fall known as the Intergroup Dialogues Project. These dialogues will explore contentious issues involving social identity and inequality. Through facilitated dialogue, participants build skills and dispositions for developing and maintaining relationships across differences, and for taking action for equity and social change.
We are also in the process of preparing to assess, via a series of Focus Groups in fall 2013, how the members of our community experience the current campus climate. To ensure full transparency and to provide a more complete perspective, we have contracted Rankin & Associates to help lead this effort. Dr. Susan Rankin has conducted over 100 campus climate surveys in her more than 35 years in the academy. Rankin & Associates will be working with a committee of students, staff, and faculty to develop the focus groups and protocols.
The goals of this project are multifold: 1) to identify successful initiatives, 2) to uncover any challenges facing members of our community, and 3) to develop strategic initiatives to build on the successes and address the challenges. The results will be presented to the entire campus community and the Campus Climate Working Group will present me with a series of immediate, intermediate, and long-term action-item recommendations based on the survey results.
I hope that you will join me in supporting these important projects. May we work together in making the Providence College community more united, more tolerant, and more dedicated to each other’s well-being, and may God continue to bless us.
Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P.
3/14/2013 - Father Shanley's Message Regarding Pope Francis
I join the entire Providence College community in joy and celebration over the election of Cardinal Jorge Maria Bergoglio as our new Pope and Bishop of Rome.
Cardinal Bergoglio, who has chosen to be called Pope Francis, has broken new ground even before his installation which is expected to occur on Tuesday, March 19th. He is the first Latin American Pope and the first Pope to come from outside of Europe, hailing from the South American nation of Argentina. He is the first Jesuit Pope. He is also the first Pope to take the name of Francis.
By all accounts, Pope Francis is a modest and humble man. Upon his election, the news media were quick to point out that he forgoed living in the archbishop's palace in Buenos Aires and instead took up residence in a simple apartment where he prepared his own meals. It was also reported that he sold the limousine afforded his office and instead took public transit to work each day so he could be close to the people he was entrusted to shepherd.
The days and weeks ahead will give us further clues as to exactly what the priorities of the new Pope will be and where he will place emphasis. Nonetheless, the fact that he asked the throng of people in St. Peter's Square to pray for him in his very first public appearance on the loggia of the Basilica would seem to indicate that he intends to remain, above all, a humble servant of God. As such, he is a fitting example for all of us at Providence College and for the world at large.
May Almighty God bless our new Holy Father in wisdom, grace and strength as he begins his papacy. And may the papacy of Pope Francis be a shining light of guidance and stewardship for all of Christendom as well as for the Providence College community.
Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P.