SHU Hosts Successful Lilly Fellows Network Exchange Program

From left are Dr. Michael W. Higgins, President Petillo, Dr. Laura Niesen de Abruna and Dr. Joe Creech, director of the Lilly Fellows Program.

From left are Dr. Michael W. Higgins, President Petillo, Dr. Laura Niesen de Abruna and Dr. Joe Creech, director of the Lilly Fellows Program.

News Story: May 1, 2012

For three days last month, Sacred Heart University was host to nearly 50 members of the Lilly Fellows Network Exchange Program for its presentation on the Human Journey Core entitled Integrating a Faith-Based Education for the 21st Century: Challenges and Responses.

The conference was the brainstorm of Michelle Loris, Ph.D., Psy.D., associate dean and professor of English in the University’s College of Arts & Sciences. She applied for and won a prestigious Lilly Fellows Network Exchange grant in the amount of $25,000 that allowed her to put on the conference. “We wanted to bring together representatives from faith-based institutions to talk about curriculum and pedagogy for the 21st century.” she said.

Loris and her committee were thrilled with the response. “We were told to expect about 15 people; instead we got nearly 50,” she said. Attendees represented such institutions as Pepperdine, Saint Louis University, Assumption College, Boston College, Baylor University and many more.

President Petillo talks with Father David Tracy during the conference.The three-day program covered a variety of topics ranging from the opening address, “The Life of Faith and the Life of the Mind: An Ambiguous and Nurturing Space for Students,” presented by Dr. Michael W. Higgins, vice president for Mission and Catholic Identity at Sacred Heart, to the keynote address presented by Father David Tracy, Greeley Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Catholic Studies at the University of Chicago. His topic was “The Mystical and Prophetic Character of the Contemporary Religious Journey.”

Loris said she received many positive comments from attendees – not only about the conference, but also about the campus, the faculty and the students. “The students that they met were exceptional representatives of the human journey. They were articulate, enthusiastic and well-informed,” she said. “Our guests were also impressed by the Chapel and the new student commons, and they were amazed at how we integrate the Catholic intellectual tradition into our curriculum.”

Lilly Fellows Program“Network Exchange Programs, sponsored and funded by the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts, allow Network institutions to showcase distinctive projects, institutes or curricula that highlight the Christian or church-related characteristics of their schools.  While these events typically draw 10 to 15 participants, Sacred Heart University received an unprecedented number of applicants to attend – more than 60.  Clearly, Sacred Heart University identified a critical issue in church-related higher education, and I am so happy that, through the generosity and hospitality of Sacred Heart University, we were able to invite all who applied to this Network Exchange,” said Dr. Joseph Creech, director of the Lilly Fellows Program. “Certainly the attendees were not disappointed as there was much to learn from Sacred Heart and from the attendees themselves. I was especially enthusiastic about the depth of collaboration among schools representing quite different ecclesiastical affiliations.  We all have so much to learn from each other, and I am happy that the Lilly Fellows Program could help foster such an ecumenical conversation.”

Adds Loris, “It was worth all the hard work the team put in. It was an extraordinary moment for Sacred Heart to showcase how its mission and the Catholic intellectual tradition are integrated in the Human Journey Core and also to demonstrate the impressive work of our faculty and students.”

To view a photo gallery from the conference, CLICK HERE.