The case for taking a mission ‘pulse check’

A message from the Executive Dean of Health Sciences Professor Suzanne Chambers AO:

As a Catholic university, mission is at the heart of every endeavour at ACU and, fortunately, the university offers staff many ways to ensure our mission is thriving.

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Institute for Administrators of Catholic Higher Education (IACHE), hosted annually by Boston College in the USA. Held in July each year, the week-long seminar is designed to serve administrative leaders, such as presidents, vice-presidents, deans, program directors and others in executive leadership positions. Among the educators and program directors is our own Vice-President Fr Anthony Casamento CSMA.

I was privileged to be invited to join this year’s IACHE seminar, along with Chief People Officer Anna Phillips.

Since joining ACU, I've been on my own journey to better understand the deeper elements of our mission, and I think my understanding has grown through attending the IACHE training. It’s a gift to be able to learn more about these aspects of our university and our mission.

The IACHE is very intensive, continuing from day through to the evening, and covers many diverse topics such as how to bring Catholic social thought into our work as administrators, right down to how we can do that in the way that we teach.

One of the things that shifted my thinking about mission was having a greater sense of ACU’s part in the global network of universities in the Catholic tradition. While we know that in our heads, being physically in the room with people from international Catholic universities and listening to the experiences of people in similar roles to myself was quite powerful. I started to shift my perspective and realised ACU is part of a bigger conversation.

Coming back from the seminar, I’ve intentionally started having conversations with different staff about what my experience was, in a way to prompt a discussion with everyone about how we demonstrate mission in the way we do our work here and the way we interact with others at ACU.

My thoughts are that we need to build this in as a regular part of the conversations that we have at ACU about mission, almost like ‘a pulse check’, to help us remember that the Catholic intellectual tradition is in our mission, and Catholic social teaching puts that into very concrete terms.

Every now and again, let’s do a check on how we are living that mission, and whether there are any things that we could do more or less of to be more aligned. And how does that reflect Catholic social thought and Catholic social teaching? This is a very good place to start.

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