Social Justice is a multidimensional and deeply philosophical concept which is widely interpreted by a variety of scholars and professionals. I will offer my perspectives on social justice through the lens of an administrator at Loyola.
Social justice is very much embedded in the Jesuit tradition. As such, we must promote a culture of collaboration and collegiality by caring for and respecting one other, reflecting on the decisions we make and discerning between what is right or wrong, what is fair and just, and what is in the best interest of the university. The processes of discernment and reflective thinking were critical in my decision to embrace an administrative philosophy and leadership style that I am most comfortable with – a philosophy grounded in the virtue of stewardship. Stewardship refers to the careful and responsible management of an institution, ensuring that other people’s needs are being met, and committing to the long-term well-being of an organization. Also, embedded in the concept of stewardship are virtues such as integrity, service, collaboration, shared governance, accountability, inclusivity, humane leadership, ethical and professional conduct, and a commitment to the personal and professional growth of one’s colleagues. The Graduate School’s Community and Global Stewards Fellowship Program encourages students to engage social issues and challenges generously and to embrace a scholarship of engagement that connects our intellectual resources to the pressing social, civic, and ethical problems in our communities and the world. As stewards, LUC graduate students are provided with opportunities to demonstrate how their graduate study and research connects with a larger public by partnering with community groups, grassroots organizations, local businesses, and industries to help address societal needs. Fostering a climate of diversity is equally important recognizing that it enhances our intellectual and social environment and acknowledges the fact that as a Jesuit university, we are world-affirming.
Finally, I would like to focus on the issue of service, which is not only a major theme linked to social justice and our Jesuit tradition, but is also a key component of the Graduate School and University mission of expanding knowledge in the service of humanity. First, we belief strongly in serving our students and fostering a climate of excellence and success. In that spirit, the Graduate School provides the necessary resources to support scholarly activities that provide students with opportunities to disseminate their research findings through conference venues, publication outlets, research foundations, and community-based organizations. Other kinds of support services include: sponsoring professional development workshops and teaching effectiveness seminars, supporting doctoral dissertation completion initiatives, and diversifying funding packages to support students nearing doctoral completion. These resources ensure that our students are better integrated academically and socially into the graduate educational environment. Second, the Graduate School Outreach Service (GSOS) program is designed to foster a sense of civic engagement and volunteerism among faculty, staff, and student, by cultivating partnerships with area schools, nursing homes, shelters, and rehabilitation facilities that are in need of help.
In conclusion, I believe that academics and professionals who are part of a network of Jesuit universities and colleges are uniquely situated to embrace further responsibilities that promote the values, norms, and ideals of social justice. Combining the principles of Ignatian spirituality, social justice, discernment and stewardship, allows us to construct a paradigm that is value-oriented, deeply reflective, and intensely affective; a paradigm that stimulates creativity and imagination in ways that improve student success and enhance our serve obligations to our local and global communities.