Saturday, October 29, 2005
Antonian Hall, Carlow University
I enthusiastically accept the responsibilities of the office of President of Carlow University, and I re-commit the University to its mission grounded in the tradition of the Sisters of Mercy. I will be constantly reminded of the University's mission by the words around the Presidential Medallion I have received: Reverence and Sensitivity, Lifelong Learning, Compassionate Service. I will also be reminded of the wonderful women who have preceded me as President of Carlow University and whose names are forever captured on this Presidential Medallion.
Today, we have heard many voices stating a constant theme: Carlow University has strong traditions, an outstanding reputation, and a bright future. We share in this celebration with our Carlow colleagues, students, alumnae, and Trustees; with delegates from Higher Education institutions and organizations across the country; with representatives of the Pittsburgh Diocese and the Pittsburgh Sisters of Mercy; with public officials and Women of Spirit; and with donors, friends, and neighbors of Carlow University. We in the Carlow Community thank all who have today shared their presence and good wishes, warm words of welcome and encouragement, creative and musical talent, promises of continued support and collaboration, and public recognition of Carlow's contributions and achievements during its 76-year history. I thank all the members of the Carlow University community for a wonderful Inaugural Week of programs highlighting our history and mission, and culminating today in our Inaugural Mass at St. Paul Cathedral and this Installation ceremony. I am so proud to be a member of this "High Care" Carlow family.
To my own family, I offer my deepest gratitude for love, encouragement, support, and personal sacrifice as we explored together this opportunity to serve Carlow University through leadership. I especially thank Ken, my dear husband and partner in all things, who said, "why not?" when I asked, "why?" We both believe we have found a new home at Carlow, and we have deeply appreciated the welcoming embrace we have received.
We have learned that Carlow University is truly what its Admissions materials claim: rich in tradition, small in size, big in spirit, broad in academic challenges, high in expectations, innovative in approach, diverse in opportunities, unparalleled in commitment. We have experienced that Carlow University is motivated by its mission and dedicated to implementing that mission at every level. Throughout the University, we see a commitment to respect self and others, to critically evaluate and appreciate all aspects of life, to be aware of women's perspectives and to foster women's learning styles, to communicate effectively, to solve problems collegially, and to serve with competence and compassion. These are values Carlow University has cherished from our past, embodied in our present, and envision as we shape what will become our future. The words of our mission are written in our documents and hang on our walls, but most importantly echo in our hearts and minds. They infuse our curriculum as core values and inform all our decisions. They under-pin our high standards and expectations of each other and of our students and alumnae. They are recognized by all whom we serve and by all those who support us.
I need not give a Carlow commercial to all those gathered here today. You know that Carlow University is a special place and makes special contributions to our community. In your program, you will find the words of the Carlow University mission, but what you will not find there is the life that mission takes in our daily lives. We at Carlow, including we newest members of the Carlow family, understand that mission involves being sent to do God's will in our world. We believe that our mission is thus about serving others. We recognize that our education, our experiences, and expertise are gifts given for others. Thus we share them with others as a fulfillment of our social and spiritual responsibility. We engage in life-long learning and service to others to then empower them, especially women, to go and do likewise.
Carlow University's commitment to educate women is renowned and respected in the Pittsburgh community. In fact, Carlow is Pennsylvania's only Catholic, women-centered University. Founded in the traditions of the Sisters of Mercy, Carlow continues to educate women in the values of knowledge for peace, justice, and service.
Catherine McAuley speaks to us today in a letter from the past which will continue to inform our future as we educate women for effective leadership: "No work of charity can be more productive of good to society or more conducive to the happiness of the poor than the careful instruction of women - since whatever station they are destined to fill, their example and their advice will always have great influence." Later, she tells us that women are to be educated for the serious purpose of social change. How powerful is that message in our contemporary world where we do not have sufficient access to women's voices and leadership in bringing about needed social and political change. How happy we are at Carlow to embrace the charge to prepare women to exercise leadership at all levels. In a recent letter I received from Bishop Donald Wuerl, Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, he reaffirmed Catherine McAuley's vision and Carlow's mission in the context of our call to be a faith-based, women-centered educational institution committed to competent and compassionate service. He wrote: "As a Catholic institution of higher learning, Carlow has a privileged opportunity to lead a significant number of women in the community to a deeper understanding of God's truth and to a stronger life of faith that reaches out in loving service to others." This we at Carlow do every day, and will continue to do as we change the culture of the day and of the future through the education and empowerment of women as competent professionals, as effective civic and business leaders, as loving parents and spouses, and as enlightened members of the laity in churches of many faiths.
A well-known play, A Man for All Seasons, portrays the values of St. Thomas More who believed so strongly in the education of women that he ensured the highest level of education for his daughter. In the play, there is a powerful scene when a former student and aspiring protégé of Thomas approaches him for a job in government. Richard Rich embodies excessive and self-centered ambition which, if left unchallenged, will ultimately destroy himself and Thomas More. Rather than encouraging Richard Rich in his desire for personal recognition through civil employment, Thomas More advises him: "Be a teacher." Disappointed, Rich says: "And if I were to be a teacher, who would know?" Thomas replies: "You, your students, your friends, and God. Not a bad public, that." These words challenge all of us in this profession. In reality, all of us are teachers in whatever role our life presents. Whether our teaching role is described as Professor, Philosopher, Patriarch (or Matriarch), Parent, Priest, or President, we are called to share our gifts of knowledge and talent in the service of others and of God. Carlow responds well to this call as a university committed to academic excellence, educational opportunities, research, scholarship, and service. What a powerful and humbling mission we have been given and enthusiastically accept!
My understanding of Carlow University's mission provides the basis for my administration. In the words of Catherine McAuley, "I am committed to the faithful discharge of duty." This I will do with you in each of our todays, while respecting our yesterdays, and shaping our tomorrows. As with all human endeavors, I am not called to accomplish this work alone. We are a community bound by a common call to serve our brothers and sisters, and we each bring something special to accomplish that mission for the good of each other and those whom we serve. As I assume the responsibilities of leadership, I know that I am surrounded by other leaders at every level within and beyond the University. Together we will raise our community to new heights, and we will provide others the strength of intellect and character to continue our work when we are gone. Such was the vision of the founding Sisters of Mercy who came to this missionary territory, and we marvel at what they accomplished. They truly were at the forefront in effecting community and economic development through the education of women and service to the poor. Now, empowered by the fruits of their labor, we are called to continue their work of mercy and justice. We are asked to give to others the gifts we have been given for them. Carlow University has embraced this mission for 76 years, and will continue to fulfill that mission under my leadership. I welcome your partnership in this endeavor. Together, we will continue to do God's work in our communities and in our world.