From the President
"Collaboration" is a concept tossed about with ease and frequency. Advocates praise its highest attribute: the power of collective energy working toward a common goal. Critics scoff that it "takes way too long" or is little more than code for "another committee creating an expensive and useless,multi-humped camel." The reality can be both and neither, or a varying blend of each.
Collaboration is a critically important central concept at St. Catherine University and, therefore, the focus of this issue of SCAN. I hope you enjoy it.
Why is collaboration so important to us? Because it is the way women work. Because the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Because we believe so passionately that good people of intelligence and sound values working together come up with better ideas,more feasible solutions,more creative possibilities. Because it is an enjoyable and effective way to work. Because, on the deepest level, collaboration imitates the central truth of our Trinitarian faith. Made in God's image, we live in relationship, and this is the most unique and profound reality of our humanity.
These beliefs find their way into the complex work of moving St. Catherine University forward. The value of collaboration is everywhere evident in the classroom, in the way faculty engage with students, in the questions and ideas they probe through their classes and assignments. It is evident in the burgeoning of collaborative research, engaging students and faculty in creative problem solving at a level that allows students to develop impressive résumés well before they graduate. Evident as well in service-learning opportunities that bring faculty, students and "local folks" into a mini-community working to effect sustainable change for seemingly intractable social problems.
Administratively, it means that we develop our plans, budgets, policies and practices through processes of consultation and engagement. It means the best idea can come from anywhere. It means we talk with one another. Most importantly it means we try hard to listen to one another.
What has St. Catherine's commitment to collaboration produced? A thousand, thousand examples I could give. On June 9, I hosted the President's Forum dinner to thank our most generous donors. In my talk, I featured eight impressive people who each understand how individual excellence and a commitment to collaboration or teamwork gets better work done more effectively. That plays itself out through Physical Therapy Professor Sue Klappa's field experiences in the Dominican Republic; in Ugandan student Latifah Kiribedda's realistic aspirations to international leadership; in student-athlete Greta Sieve's partnership with her coach that resulted in her All-American status — a first for St. Kate's; in 1967 alumna Judge Kathleen Gearin's impressive community leadership; and in Exercise and Sport Science Professor Mark Blegen's deep understanding of the multifaceted and integrated dimensions of women's wellness.
A commitment to collaboration is reflected as well in Lori True's liturgical music compositions for Campus Ministry that take on new expression through the community of musicians, singers and dancers surrounding her; as Kelly Milkus '01, an emergency-room physician at North Memorial Medical Center, sets the tone for a community of care and healing; and as ASL/Interpreting Professor Paula Gajewski-Mickelson leads students to understand the Deaf culture and community and, through their interpreting and language skills, to create a wider net of inclusion for people with hearing challenges. Impressive, indeed, and there are so many more.
Our best collaboration is with our closest partners — the Sisters of St. Joseph and our alumnae. On June 1, the Board of Trustees began working under a new governance structure. It's a smaller board, with more opportunity for interaction and, most importantly, a sponsorship council that puts an indelible stamp on the Sisters as inspirational and incredibly skilled mentors in the business of collaboration. This summer, we hope to enter a new moment of collaboration with our alumnae. We look forward to it all with enthusiasm and anticipation.
Enjoy a wonderful summer. We all deserve one, don't we? You remain in my prayers, as always.
Andrea J. Lee, IHM