University Awarded Lilly Planning Grant

Funds will support efforts to examine formation and vocation at BC

By Sean Smith
Chronicle Editor

Boston College has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment to plan initiatives that will support the Universityís mission to integrate studentsí intellectual and social formation under the central principle of vocation.

BC was one of 31 colleges and universities given planning grants by the Lilly Endowment. Using the grant, the University will create a detailed implementation proposal to present to Lilly in June, which could result in more extensive funding.

Vice President for Mission and Ministry Joseph Appleyard, SJ, has formed a steering committee to organize the planning process and several parallel initiatives on student formation, including seminars, lectures, focus group discussions and analysis of research on undergraduate studentsí life choices. The committee has selected Center for Ignatian Spirituality Director Howard Gray, SJ, to serve as project director.

"We know Boston College already does so much in helping students think about the deeper meaning of their academic and professional development," said Fr. Gray. "Through the grant, we can examine some creative ways of integrating how we teach vocation."

Among the initiatives the steering committee plans is a series of seminars on various aspects of vocation for administrators and faculty. The seminars will be directed by authors, academics, priests and other experts, who will ó depending on their schedules and availability ó also present lectures to the University community.

The first of these lectures will take place Wednesday, Feb. 16, at 8 p.m. in Gasson 305, when LaSalle University Professor of Philosophy William Sullivan, co-author of Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life, discusses the career and professional development aspect of vocation.

Administrators said the planning process and related activities funded by the Lilly Endowment grant dovetail with ongoing University efforts to foster studentsí spiritual development.

"The invitation from the Lilly Endowment to participate was a happy opportunity," said Fr. Appleyard. "It tapped into currents set in motion through, for example, the University Academic Planning Councilís discussions and the work being done by the Council on Student Formation.

"This is an area BC is intent on exploring," he continued. "The Lilly grant creates a framework, and some urgency, for that exploration."

"There is a lot to pull together in a relatively short time," Fr. Gray said. "But people weíve talked to about participating in seminars and other activities have been very generous and helpful. This is something very worthwhile for BC to undertake."

Other seminars will include: Prof. Fr. Michael Himes (Theology), on the meanings of vocation; the Most Rev. Kenneth Untener, bishop of Saginaw, Mich., on church vocation; author Mark Schwehn, professor of humanities and dean of Christ College, Valparaiso University, on creating a community of mentors; James Fowler, Charles Howard Candler professor of theology and human development at Emory University, on developmental and psychological issues; and social workers Claudette and Patrick J. McDonald, authors of Out of the Ashes, on marriage and family issues.

Fr. Gray emphasized that the initiatives this spring will involve all segments of the University community.

"There is a role for everyone to play: administrators, faculty, staff, students and alumni," he said. "We realize many people are already involved in so many efforts to promote formation and vocation, and thatís why it is so important we get their viewpoints."

Information on many of the events related to the vocation project will be available on the Center for Ignatian Spirituality World Wide Web page.

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