As I sit to write this introductory letter to The Lamp, I am now at the end of my second year as the Dean. While the year has certainly had its challenges, the resilience, dedication and sheer talent of the faculty, students and staff continue to both amaze and humble me. We have just finished the graduation season at SLU. While that is the culminating event, what is more impressive are all the recognition ceremonies that take place in the weeks and days prior to commencement.
In Jesuit education we talk about a “sacramental approach” to education. We translate this into the language of “finding God in all things.” While the other schools and colleges at SLU certainly contribute to this approach in their own ways, the College of Arts and Sciences is uniquely positioned to do so. As I sat through student awards and heard about all of the amazing research, creative activity and service our undergraduates engage in or watched them deliver their capstone projects, I was perpetually awestruck by the breadth and depth of those men and women who are both for and with others coming out of the College. As I listened to the titles of PhD dissertations and Master’s theses, I was both fascinated and a little daunted by the range and sophistication of the work being done by these newest members of the scholarly community. As I read letters and notes of nomination for the faculty and staff awardees in the areas of teaching and service, I was moved by the commitment to the mission and the numerous manifestations of the Magis and the unbridled devotion to the Jesuit ideal of Cura Personalis that leapt off those pages. In putting together the College’s yearly summary of research, scholarship, creative activity and performances, as well as attending various recognition ceremonies and celebrations for that work, I was astounded by both the intellectual reach, grasp, and the sheer volume of work produced by this outstanding faculty. Simply put, I have no doubt that as a College we are delivering on our mission to glorify God, transmit knowledge and provide service to humanity. It is a true grace to be and work in this academic community.
This is why I have to say that the stories that follow—as good as they are—are only examples and samples of the work being done in Arts and Sciences. The very range of topics just hints at our breadth and the diversity of contributions being made by our faculty and students.
Alumna, Alicen Moser’s work as a writer, actress and arts entrepreneur illuminates and exposes the reality of the human condition while raising important social and political questions, often through the subversive and infectious use of humor.
Professor Allison Miller’s research into rootstocks has both focused commercial implications for the wine industry, but more importantly it has the potential to make vital contributions to what will unfortunately continue to be one of the world’s greatest humanitarian challenges for at least the rest of this century, namely food insecurity.
Master’s in Public Administration student, Caleb Bobo, has both heard and is answering the call to public service and activism in the name of faith, solidarity and social justice. His choices and future are a testament to the transformative power of a SLU education on multiple levels.
And finally, the work begun by Fr. Chris Collins, S. J. in Catholic Studies has been embraced and expanded exponentially by Fr. David Meconi, S. J. as the program moves forward in its great new space with a mission of deepening Catholic praxis for students hungry for a life that is grounded in the transcendent while still confronting the concrete world we live in with faithful hearts and creative minds.
These stories just scratch the surface of all that is happening on our campus, in the community and around the world each and every day. I am deeply thankful all the time for being allowed to be a part of this great University and this wonderful College. I hope that each of you will read these stories and seek out other news about our work in Arts and Sciences. I would also encourage you to drop us a line from time to time to tell us what you are up to and let us know if you will be visiting campus in the future.
Finally, I would like to announce that the College has a new development director, Emily Mahon. We are excited about her joining us in Arts and Sciences and if you see her name come across your email or elsewhere, I would ask that you please take the time to get to know her.
May God bless all of you and your loved ones in the coming year.
In Peace and Friendship,
Christopher M. Duncan
Dean and Professor
College of Arts and Sciences
Saint Louis University