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Faculty, Staff Participate in Discussion about Students' Vocational Discernment

On Dec. 5, SLU hosted renowned sociology professor and author Tim Clydesdale, Ph.D., who gave an address about the importance of vocation, titled, "Why SLU Must Talk to Its Students about Vocation."

Tim Clydesdale talk

Faculty and staff packed the St. Louis Room in Busch Student Center to learn about students' vocational discernment.

More than 120 faculty and staff attended the presentation in Busch Student Center's St. Louis Room.

Clydesdale, who is the author of the books “The Purposeful Graduate: Why Colleges Must Talk to Students About Vocation” and "The First Year Out: Understanding American Teens After High School," presented research on best practices from other campuses, and the impact that discussions about calling and purpose can have on students.

Most notably, Clydesdale highlighted research that showed students who participated in vocational discernment programs and conversations on purpose during their time as an undergraduate displayed more resiliency and had higher levels of career satisfaction as alumni.  In addition, more than 80 percent of students desire to have such conversations and reflection opportunities. 

Attendees also spent some time reflecting on their own vocational path. 

"If we want Saint Louis University graduates to be purposeful, productive and resilient, we must make conversations about calling and vocation a priority across campus,” said Jaime Reed, academic advisor in the Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business. “Dr. Clydesdales' research provides us an excellent starting point to incorporate discussions and programming about meaning and purpose into our everyday work."   

"One of the most helpful aspects of Dr. Clydesdale’s work is its focus on concrete examples,” said Debie Lohe, director of the Reinert Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning. “As educators at a Jesuit university, many of us feel a strong philosophical commitment to supporting students’ vocational discernment. Seeing example programs helps us begin to imagine more systematic ways to enact that commitment, both in and out of the classroom.”

The event was facilitated by the VITAS program (Vocational Inquiry Through Advocacy and Service), with generous support from the Lilly Endowment. It was also co-sponsored by the Reinert Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning and the Division of Student Development.