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Dominican Higher Education Colloquium 2018




Concurrent Session V


A.  “The Failures of Educational Systems from Kindergarten to College:  A Dominican Response”
           Andrew-David Bjork, Siena Heights and Susan Kaye Pastor, Edgewood College

There are many indicators from scholarly studies to anecdotal evidence that suggest that our

educational systems me failing large portions of our students. So many factors come into play that seem out of our control that attempting to address this failure appems daunting at best, overwhelming at worst. This session provides two responses to contemporary barriers to learning, rooted in the Dominican tradition, the centrality of relationship, and the emphasis on integration and wholeness. One response is a mathematician’s attempt to change the instructional model of his class by embracing the four Dominican pillars in very explicit ways; the other involves the integration between “in” and “out” of classroom in the Edgewood COR Program. Both take seriously the claims of Grace Lee Boggs, author of The Next American Revolution, regarding the need for a new pmadigm in education. The ensuing conversation will be devoted to meaningful ways in which we can serve our students better.

b.  “Collective Impact Practices in STEM Research and Teaching”
           Bernadette Connors, Ph.D., Dominican College of Blauvelt

Collective impact practices are known to enhance classroom experiences for students and considered to contribute to the sustainability of newly developed programs.  These same practices can be extended to the undergraduate research laboratory, also with substantial positive impacts on retention and academic success.  In this session, examples of collective impact in both the STEM classroom and laboratory will be presented, along with relevant findings that have been communicated to the larger scientific community.  Extensions of this model will be discussed, and how one might approach it in a non-STEM discipline.  Attendees will be asked to identify how they might embrace these practices in their own fields, creating a logic model for themselves, and begin to develop implementation strategies that might fit within the collective impact model.

C. “Environmental Leadership Experience: Engaging Students in Caring for the Earth”
          Paula Dias, Ed.D. and Karen Stalnaker, Barry University
         Elaine Johnson, Adrian Dominican Sisters

This panel presentation will describe the development and implementation of a collaborative two-week summer Environmental Learning Experience (ELE) that brought Adrian Dominican Sisters (ADS) and staff together with students and faculty from Barry University and Siena Heights University (SHU) in support of the Sisters’ enactment related to sustainability. Panelists will discuss the theological foundation for environmental sustainability as well as the student engagement, curriculum development, logistical, and implementation aspects of a collaborative program between two universities and their religious sponsor.

For the past two years, Barry and SHU students have engaged in an intensive ELE on the ADS’ permaculture site on the grounds of the Motherhouse in Adrian, Michigan.  Students representing various majors (from social work, to biology and political science) engaged with Sisters and faculty advisors in hands-on service learning activities, as well as a number of field trips and lectures that prepared the students to maximize their experiences.

The students learned through informal talks and formal lectures by Sisters, professors, and local experts on topics ranging from the history of labyrinths as a spiritual tool, composting, pollination, urban agriculture, aquaponics, water pollution, climate change, innovative sustainability initiatives in health care settings, and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Day trips took students to Aquinas College in Grand Rapids to observe their Zero Waste initiative, Adrian College to visit an aquaponics lab, and Lake Erie’s Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. Trips also included a number of educational sites to observe zero waste efforts and the successful implementation of renewable energy.  The group volunteered for a half day with the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative.

Panelists’ contributions:

  • Paula Dias (Barry University) will discuss the process of student engagement in the experience, including advertising the initiative on campus, recruiting students, preparing students, logistical planning for student travel, as well as coordination of planning with SHU regarding student/faculty housing for the ELE and collaborating with ADS regarding planning of the permaculture curriculum and budget.
  • Elaine Johnson (ADS Permaculture Specialist), who created and delivered the permaculture curriculum (Earth care/People care/Fair Share), will discuss theoretical and practical foundations of the curriculum, collaborative aspects of curriculum development with university faculty, as well as delivery of the curriculum. Elaine will also describe her experience working with the students and faculty and her vision for future ELE trips.
  • Karen Stalnaker (Barry University) will discuss the theological roots of environmental sustainability through the creation story and its implications as they relate to our responsibility as Catholic, Dominican universities. She will review the Catholic Church’s renewed commitment through Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home.

D.  “Transforming Active Learning in the Humanities through the Contemplative Use of Digital Multi-Media and Technology”
            Eileen Marie Connor, O.P. Ed.D., St. John’s University – College of Professional Studies

For Dominicans, who like myself, minister in higher education at institutions of higher learning not in the Dominican Tradition, we cannot help but to be actively engaged in reaching the people of our time through “contemplare et contemplate aliis tradere,” not only by what we do but how we do what we do because we claim to be Dominican—always seeking Truth in Providence.

That said, my presentation will focus on how contemplation and mindfulness can be integrated into active learning in the Humanities through the use of digital multimedia and technology, particularly with respect to critical thinking, reading and writing assignments. Focused use of multi-media and technology empowers the learner to be contemplative and mindful in an often times mindless world, self-reflective without becoming self-absorbed and transformed rather than transfixed not only by what one is learning but how one is learning given these extraordinary tools. Participants will be provided with hands-on, practical pedagogies and techniques that can be applied not only to the Humanities but other disciplines as well, while at the same time offer alternative means of assessment, particularly with at-risk and underachieving student populations.

E.  “Balancing Spirituality in Private and In Business”
          Dr. Eboni Mathis, DM, Siena Heights University

This presentation will focus on the need to put God first in a person’s private and professional life. Spirituality is merely the ability to find meaning about life and existence. Spirituality influences individuals to make connections with personal growth, responsibility and interpersonal relationships.  God expects us to seek knowledge and wisdom so that we can live our lives more abundantly. When we seek knowledge and understanding in God, we then can be filled and free from hunger and thirst.

As we become educated on the Word of God, we then prepare ourselves as workers and good stewards. We must follow the passage of 2 Timothy 2:15 and “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth”. These are principles that we can connect in our everyday lives in higher education, the workforce and as good deed doers in our walk with God.

Drawing upon Dominican principles and social mission, this presentation will provide key steps that an individual should take to find themselves pleasing to God, family, and within business relationships. For those struggling to embrace their spirituality in the work place, this presentation will also provide some tips on how to maintain balance with praise and worship while on the job. Because God does not expect his people to be a public success and a private failure, this presentation hopes to inspire individuals to be successful in public and in private while carrying out the work that God has called them to do.

The following bullet items are main themes in the presentation:
– Balancing Church Involvement
– Being Present with Family
– Finding Purpose (Spiritually, Personally and Professionally)
– Work vs Personal Mission
– Establishing Healthy Relationships
– Praise in the Workplace


“Mission-Embedded Education for Future Business Leaders”
Maureen L. Mackenzie, Ph.D., Molloy College”

The integration of the Dominican Pillars is at the foundation of the educational goal to set business students on an ethical path. However, we must first consider the primary steps in helping graduate students develop into senior leaders who are grounded and ethical.  This paper is practitioner-oriented. It is a reflection on what is needed to place developing leaders on a good path toward understanding ethics in business. It is written in the first person; as a Dean and as a professor, I know that I am not alone in seeking insight as to this goal. My goal is to share my experience and to invite others to collaborate on this topic at the 2018 Dominican Colloquium.

I value capitalism as our Economic system, but I recognize that when deception finds its way into a free market, damage can be done to our economy.  I strongly believe that it is job-creation, focus on community, social awareness, and sustainable economic growth, with profit as a healthy by-product, which will support and heal our society.  This paper shares my experience and recommendations.

What are the primary steps in helping graduate students develop into senior leaders who are grounded and ethical?  In my role as an educator and a leader, the issue of Ethics has always been close to my heart.  Many have suggested that ethical behavior cannot be taught; it is either part of the individual’s fabric, or it is not.  I respectfully disagree.  Ethical behavior, as is other human behavior, can be influenced, modeled, and taught.

In this paper, I join four related topics: (1) What is expected of business schools. Original research emerging from 32 in-depth interviews will be shared. (2) Seeing the ethical dilemma; business professionals find it hard to understand how smart leaders can take such a severe turn toward possible ruin. The most recent business scandals, including the Yahoo breach, VW Emissions Scandal, and the Wells-Fargo scandal, provide excellent examples. (3) Business strategies – large scandals are easy to point to and say, how can this happen? However, unethical practices can be integrated into the everyday, legal business strategies. (4) A capstone experience that embeds social responsibility as a learning outcome. As Molloy College students take their final steps in earning their business degrees, they must show evidence of learning; not only the knowledge and skills required of a business leader, but also the development of a disposition toward professional and social responsibility.  For the capstone class, each student takes on the role of a consultant for an organization that serves our society.  Their clients include government agencies such as the Commission on Human Rights, and not-for-profits, such as Island Harvest.  The client provides the students with a real-world problem.  The students must learn about the industry and the client, for which they had no prior knowledge.  They must use their knowledge and skills to make recommendations that will help resolve the problem. The results have been wonderful; but the learning outcome of developing a disposition that business can serve society becomes embedded in the student’s mindset.   

F.  “The Integration of Study and Contemplation, Both Inside and Outside of the Classroom”
          Victoria Siegel, Molloy College

Colleges are places of change, they should teach students how to think and change the way people think. Study is very important, remaining inquisitive is a value we want to instill in our students. But, we also want to instill the value of caring in our community. This is why we stress the 4 pillars of our Molloy Community: study, spirituality, community and service.

Last fall, I taught a freshman studies seminar class. This is a class in which students learn about what is available on campus and how to access these resources. For example, they learn about: the library; counseling services; writing center; career services; student solution center; how to register for classes, etc. It is hoped that the students become friends and form a learning community which can support them through their college tenure.  But, I wanted to make sure the students understood what makes their college, Molloy, different from many other institutions of higher learning.

Annually, everyone in the college is given a copy of a book selected by Common Reading Program Committee. The author of the book comes to campus and speaks to the Molloy Community.  All of the students in the Freshman studies course attends this presentation by the author.

The book chosen this past fall was entitled, The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez. The book was about a fifteen -year old girl who sustained a head injury and her family brought her to America from Panama seeking education for special needs children. The family settled in an apartment complex with other immigrants, some of whom were undocumented. The book revealed their stories and troubles, which included, poverty, prejudice and difficulty finding employment and acceptance in their new land.

The author, Cristina Henriquez, gave a powerful presentation and spoke of her own struggles of acceptance and prejudice in this country as a young girl. I wanted to connect this reading assignment to the Molloy 4 pillars: community; service; study and spirituality. So, I asked the 20 students to break up into 4 groups and assigned each group a pillar. I then asked them to discuss within their group, how the pillar they were assigned related to the book of Unknown Americans. After about 15 minutes, the groups then shared with the entire class. The students made me so proud, they were so generous, and insightful in their analyses. For their writing assignment, I asked the students to write a reflection of the book based on the four pillars and I will share some of the students’ writings at the colloquium.


“A Dominican Consortium”
    Anthony R. Farina, Siena Heights University and Heather Kesselring-Quakenbush, Aquinas College

 We would like to create a seamless Dominican educational experience for our students by creating a Dominican Educational Consortium.  This program will allow us to let our on-ground and online recruiters and advisors offer even more to prospective students. We hope to share courses, mix and match majors and minors and eventually create articulation agreements for graduate school so that students can experience a Dominican educational experience from undergraduate work through MA and PhD programs. We feel that this proposed consortium will fit the mission of the Dominican Sisters as we work under the Dominican umbrella to make sure all of our institutions of higher learning thrive and grow for years to come.

On February 1st, 2018 members of the faculty and staff at SHU and Aquinas College met to begin work on a Dominican Consortium.  The teams, led by Tony Farina and Heather Kesselring-Quakenbush, will be testing this idea in the Fall of 2018 with the long term goal of reaching out to a third institution in 2019 with the hopes presenting the results to the Dominican Colloquium in 2020. At that point, we hope to have an agreement ready to present to all of the Colleges and Universities.

G.  “Developing a Conscious in Capitalism: A Dominican Business Capstone Course”
           Dr. John Grant, OPA, Ohio Dominican University

Each student at Ohio Dominican University completes a four part 4 Pillar common core series of seminars.  Depending upon the year of study, the core courses have the students focus on questions such as what it means to be human?, what is the common good? or social justice.  In the senior year, the topic focuses on “what is truth?”  The students in various disciplines have a capstone courses that draw together their curriculum in the search for truth.

As the program coordinator for the business program at Ohio Dominican University, I have developed a capstone course for Ohio Dominican business students around the ideals of “Conscious Capitalism”.  I would like to share the design and structure of this course from the common readings, theoretical frameworks and the involvement of a student simulation.

In my presentation, I will explore the principles of this relatively new movement in business popularized in books and articles by the founder of Whole Foods’ John Mackey and his research partner Raj Sisodia.  The approach calls for businesses to serve the interests of all major stakeholders—customers, employees, investors, communities, suppliers, and the environment.  I will present my approach to teaching this concept and outline how using a business simulation engages the students into experiencing the benefits and challenges of operating a conscious business in contrast to the traditional profit-maximizing business paradigm.

Teaching ethical and sustainability matters can be tricky and difficult. I will review discussions and case studies that are helpful.  Additionally, I will show how students appreciate the opportunity to make their own decisions in a simulation experience with limited financial resources and the heat of relentless competition.  The team based projects have students consider all of a firm’s stakeholders, including customers, stockholders, employees, suppliers, and the community.  They deal with ethical, environmental and sustainability issues in addition to the normal management challenges of running a business.  Some of the programs reviewed would include:

  • Green Management, Energy, and Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Sustainable Global Enterprise
  • Environmental Management for Business
  • Sustainable Management
  • Corporate Responsibility
  • Business Ethics

Finally, I will conclude the presentation with a look at the metrics for assessing student learning and determining course grades.  I utilize a business approach known as a balanced scorecard, and will examine how hard measures such as profitability, customer satisfaction, market share, and human resource management are merged with soft metric measures of how well the conscious actions of each firm satisfied all stakeholders’ values.  I would answer questions and discuss how this course has helped develop Ohio Dominican business graduates in seeking truth.