Dominican Higher Education Colloquium 2018




Concurrent Session IV


A.  “Teaching about the School to Prison Pipeline in the Context of Dominican Values”
            Roderick Bankston, Susan Kaye Pastor and Donna Vukelich-Selva, Edgewood College

Edgewood College’s COR General Education Program reflects our Dominican values of Truth, Justice, Compassion, Community and Partnership, and has a focus on multiple perspectives as a key learning outcome.   The involvement of community-based instructors fosters these values and goals, as students report that hearing from others with experience and perspectives different from their own sparks learning.   In this presentation, Roderick Bankston will share his experience-based presentation on the School to Prison Pipeline, which has contributed to student learning in COR courses, Education courses, and community settings.    The presentation and related learning outcomes illustrate the importance of living the value of Community and of breaking down barriers between community and classroom.  The presentation will also highlight additional examples of community partnerships in the COR Program.

B.  “Living the Mission through Science”
           Ann C. Eckardt Erlanger and Patricia A. Eckardt, Molloy College

 While much attention has been paid to incorporating the Dominican Mission into curriculum and scholarship, there has not been the same amount of clear integration of Mission with science and research. This presentation will cover: (1) an overview of how the mission has informed scientific proposals and dissemination of completed research, (2) building a research lab with the four pillars as a guiding framework, and (3) lessons learned and how researchers can incorporate these ideas in their own work.

C.  “Empowered Leaders, Transformed Environments in Higher Education”
           Lisa Miller, Sherry Radowitz, Ph.D., and Angela Zimmerman, M.P.A., Molloy College
           Carol West, National Family Development Credential Program University of Connecticut

 At Molloy College, our pillars of Community, Service, Spirituality and Study, “gives us the confidence and direction necessary to give service to the world.”  Our ability to be present in our communities; contribute to the positive development of its members; and, create a culture of respect and inclusion that prepares our students for meaningful engagement in the world is critical to our Molloy tradition.  Clearly, core to contemplating the role of the Disputatio and engaged learning in seeking truth, is the development of a culture of inclusion that values and invites the contribution of all in meeting our collective mission.

Molloy College has embraced a new and exciting opportunity in the form of the Empowerment Skills for Leaders class.  Empowerment Skills for Leaders is a 30-hour, professional development training for supervisors and other leaders interested in using empowerment-based leadership in their institutions.  This credential was developed (and is issued) by the National Family Development Program, (originally developed at Cornell University and now administered at the University of Connecticut), and is offered through certified instructors across the United States. Leaders learn practical ways to build their institutional capacity in: empowerment-based supervision; interagency collaboration; strengths-based assessment; multicultural competence; and, personal self-empowerment.  To receive this credential, participants must attend 90% of the classes and complete a portfolio which includes independent learning and peer advisement to practically apply the concepts and competencies learned.  Curriculum content includes:

The Empowered Workplace
– Transforming Your Workplace Through Empowerment-Based Leadership
– Leadership and Self-Empowerment
– Supervising with Skill and Heart
– Cultural Humility

– Builds on specific skills and competencies focused on strengths-based employee development
– Provides opportunities for in-depth, interactive, and reflective interaction that encourages personal and organizational transformation
– Developed for all levels of leadership in institutions
– Helps leaders identify the areas where empowerment-based change within the organization can begin to make transformational differences institutional outcomes.

Through Family Support LI @ Molloy College, in 2016, this credential was implemented with 18 not-for-profit leaders on Long Island.  Based on its success, and the alignment of this approach with the values and philosophy of Molloy College, special permission was granted by the National Family Development office to adapt this curriculum to leadership in higher education.  Molloy is the first in the nation to adapt this curriculum to a college setting.  Since 2016, two cohorts have been trained with great success.  Participation has included a cross-section of the campus including:  office of the president; advancement and mission integration; human resources; academic affairs and faculty; public safety; public relations; student financial services; continuing education; health services; technology; alumni relations; and, the athletic department.

Comments about the training from our leaders:
“The format and style of the class allowed participants to gain valuable insight into the leadership experiences of their peers, as well as, appreciate their unique perspectives on leadership.”
“An outstanding way to add more ‘tools’ to your leadership ‘toolkit.”
“The class provided me with new insights related to leadership styles, approaches to staff supervision, organizational culture and inclusion.”

D.  “What is My Role in Building a More Just and Compassionate World? – Accompanying Students In Their Search for Truth”
            Kris Mickelson, Mary Klink, and Sara Hanson, Edgewood College

 At Edgewood College three vocational discernment questions anchor the integration of study, reflection, and action in the Dominican Tradition for students

-Who am I and who am I becoming?
-What are the needs and opportunities of the world?
-What is my role in building a more just and compassionate world?

The most explicit expression of these questions is our COR General Education curriculum, a three-level, developmental sequence of courses introduced in a first year experience seminar and culminating in a senior capstone course. Through support from a Council for Independent College’s (CIC) Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) program development grant, COR questions are being integrated more explicitly across the College.

Faculty from the sciences, arts, humanities and professional schools are collaborating with staff from Human Resources, Marketing, Dominican Life, Learning Support Services, Athletics, Personal Counseling, and Residence Life to integrate study and contemplation inside and outside the classroom. Current projects, grounded in our common Dominican language and approach to seeking truth, will impact new transfer students; a first-year student STEM learning community; faculty and staff health and wellness to name but a few examples.

Session Abstract:
This interactive workshop will allow participants to consider how Dominican-grounded vocational exploration can be woven into an institutional fabric.  Specific learning outcomes for participants include:

(1)        Learn processes and practices that create time and space for faculty and staff to collaboratively do the same kind of contemplative work we ask of our students
(2)       Identify potential campus partnerships to support and integrate contemplative vocational discernment across roles and responsibilities
(3)       Exchange ideas about promising practices for developing common language and experiences that nurture a contemplative spirit.

E.  “Creating Teachers Searching for Truth in a World of Global Terror and School Violence”
           Dr. Diane DiSpagna, Dominican College of Blauvelt

This paper will present an example of how to prepare pre-service teachers to share the Dominican Charism in order to make the world a better place one child at a time. The search for inspiration, wisdom, truth, prayer, faith, and forgiveness will be presented through the lens of one professor and one college class; the biography of one selfless young man, Welles Crowther, who gave his life to save others; his parents; one Old Catholic priest; and the development of a curriculum based on an outstanding legacy that is changing the world. The mission of the Dominican College of Blauvelt is to foster “the active, shared pursuit of truth that embodies an ideal of education rooted in the values of reflective understanding and compassionate involvement. This paper will focus on one way that the Teacher Education Program promotes this mission. The assignment completed by one class, and described in the paper, was the development of a curriculum focused on how to make sense of tragedies in our world and give voice to great loss in the form of inspiration; a legacy of wisdom known only to those who suffer such loss; and hope to allow prayer, reflection, and love to grow in the hearts of teachers educated in the Dominican tradition for the 21st Century. The paper will also present the outcomes of the culminating activity of this class, which was the presentation of the curriculum to the parents of Welles and the story they shared with the class of hope for a world that embraces forgiveness, tolerance, and a call for service that their son showed the world, one that they are continuing tirelessly and powerfully.


“Sic et Non: Promoting Civil Political Discourse”
           Dr. Paul van Wie, O.P., Molloy College

Our American democracy is presently in a state of crisis. We are all aware of the deeply polarized political discourse which surrounds us, and indeed bombards, society on a daily basis. There is often an impatience, an unwillingness to listen to diverse points of view, and sadly, on all sides a demonization of those who might be on the opposing side of an issue. For our political and social life this is a dangerous and corrosive trend. As members of a college community, we have a special responsibility to champion civil discourse, rational analysis and productive discussion in our classes and in society at large. Significantly, the Dominican charism has much to offer in this contemporary challenge.

Dominican philosophy has traditionally emphasized the disputatio, or presentation of opposing points of view, as part of the search for truth. Indeed, St. Thomas Aquinas imbedded this inclusion of opposing points of view in parts of the Summa Theologica. As teachers and learners, we too can integrate aspects of this tradition in our effort to address issues facing the contemporary world.  In the teaching of Political Science and History, the Dominican tradition of sic et non can be a valuable approach in a variety of courses. This presentation will attempt to

(a)       show how the technique of disputatio and civil discourse can be applied to Political Science courses with special application to current politics;
(b)       explore specific ways in which the Dominican tradition of disputatio can be made a central theme of semester assignments;
(c)       suggest ways in which faculty can model the technique of disputatio and civil discourse;
(d)       show how disputatio can stimulate research skills, critical thinking, and reflective personal discernment among our students;
(e)       suggest ways in which these techniques may be applied to disciplines other than Political Science;
(f)        discuss ways in which these Dominican intellectual traditions can convey hope, meaning, and perspective to our students in a tumultuous and often daunting societal context.

F.  “How Social Media has Swallowed the Truth”
          Mark Meachem, Dominican College of Blauvelt

This discussion would focus on how American society is caught up in a dizzying and changing world of information. Social media has become the dominant mode of information exchange in the 21st century and the cost for this convenient mode of communication is often truth. The result of such a seismic shift is that we find ourselves caught between being a highly informed public and an imprudent mob. The Internet, and its social media offspring, have opened up massive amounts of data but they have also led to having us close ourselves up into what Eli Pariser calls the Filter Bubble.  The result of this, socially, politically, and educationally, is a diminished respect and a lack of understanding for what is actually true. Social media has strongly influenced news reporting and the truth has now become something that is debatable and pliable. The Internet, and particularly social media platforms, have begun to do the opposite of what was originally envisioned in this New Age of shared information. Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan, noted that the “diversity that the World Wide Web had originally envisioned” has been taken down by centralized information from a select few networks – resulting in something that is “making us all less powerful in relation to government and corporations”. Understanding these changes and raising awareness of this battle for the truth in media is critical for our students and for the Dominican tradition.


“A Bold Approach to Facing Enrollment Challenges in Higher Education”
          Roxanna Cruz and Team Members, Barry University

In an effort to address declining enrollment at private institutions and be at the forefront of the ever-changing climate in admissions, institutions will need to take a closer look at their organizational structure and at recruitment practices currently in place. In this unpredictable market when enrollment has starkly declined for many institutions, and with a new generation of students seeking higher education in the pipeline, there is a stronger need to communicate more effectively, earlier, and in the frequency and modality best suited for this population. This presentation will give participants insight on the painful challenges faced when organizational restructuring is driven by the necessity to address financial sustainability, including meeting their enrollment targets. This presentation will also offer best practice solutions in recruitment and admissions, allocating resources to expand reach, and a strong focus on identifying and attracting best-fit students to a particular institution. In this presentation, participants will hear the perspective of one institution who faced tough times and underwent a process that overhauled several units and affected age-old business processes. The purpose of the restructure was to introduce the next level of college admissions, Strategic Enrollment Management, to incorporate university constituents to the admissions process while leveraging relationships and community engagement, and to develop both short and long-term strategies that would create new and nurture longstanding enrollment opportunities for the future viability of the institution. The changes required transparency, compassion, and bold leadership. It took a village, and with the strong support of numerous on-campus partners such as deans, faculty, staff, the executive committee of administration, and the university President, the changes have had positive effects on enrollment of new undergraduate students.

G.  “Contemplative Pedagogy:  A Review for Beginners”
           Rebecca Murray, Ph.D., Barry University

There is “a quiet revolution in higher education” (Zajonc, 2013). The revolution is the infusion of contemplative practices into colleges and universities. Proponents of this pedagogical trend claim that the benefits range from reduced stress and better concentration to having a comprehensive and deep understanding of oneself and the world.

The Workshop is for anyone who want to review the What, Why, and How of contemplative practice in higher education. We will emphasize thinking critically about incorporating contemplative practice, and how the practice may be used in the classroom regardless one’s discipline.

Zajonc, A. (2013). Contemplative Pedagogy: A quiet revolution in higher education. In Contemplative Studies in Higher Education: New Directions for Teaching and Learning; 134: 83-94.