The semester opened for all Core faculty, full-time and part-time, with an event that we hope will become an annual one – "the opening charge to the Core," coupled with wine and cheese, along with fruits and other desserts, coffee and tea. The evening began formally, with a welcome from the director, and then brief messages from three Core faculty members: Gloria Thurmond (Music), Greg Iannarella (English), and Marianne Lloyd (Psychology). All three spoke of how important and meaningful teaching in the Core was for them. As they spoke, I could not help feeling how blessed the Core is to have such teachers, along with our wonderful Core Fellows and other FT and PT faculty. We welcomed some of our newest adjuncts – Stephanie Sonnick (Notre Dame), who also works in campus ministry; Juliana Van Visco (Columbia); and O’Neil Van Horn (Drew). The Core is also thrilled to have Josephine DeVito (FT nursing professor) teaching for us in the Core. There was much to celebrate!
The actual "charge" was given by Dr. J. Michael Stebbins, Toth-Lonergan Visiting Professor in Inter-Disciplinary Studies. Dr. Stebbins was the perfect choice to initiate this event, as he came to us in 2001 to lead a Catholic Studies seminar, and he helped us to understand what a university Core might be. Having him address us now was meaningful as it was a both a looking ahead to a promising future and looking at the past to understand where we came from. His talk was heart-felt and relevant, as he explored with us the importance of what the Core does for our students and how our role as instructors deeply matters.
Dr. Stebbins is a theologian whose interests center on systematic and doctrinal theology, ethics, human cognition and decision-making, and the work of Bernard Lonergan. He holds a B.A. in philosophy from Gonzaga University, a B.S. in nursing from the University of Washington, and a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Boston College. He has served as the director of the Gonzaga Ethics Institute at Gonzaga University, and as the director of the Arrupe Program in Social Ethics for Business at the Woodstock Theological Center, located at Georgetown University. Most recently, he utilized his nursing background by serving as Executive Vice President for Mission at Avera Health, a four-state Catholic health care system headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. His talk got us off to an inspiring start. He and his wife, Mary Kay, will be involved in many mission-related activities on campus. The Core was honored to host the first formal event in which Michael and Mary Kay participated.
Finally, it was wonderful to watch our faculty socializing, way past the end time of the event, which was 6:00 p.m. Core Fellows were chatting with professors from a wide array of departments, as adjuncts and instructors mingled with tenured professors and assistant professors. It was a lovely evening. A great strength of the Core lies in its wonderful faculty. Our "Opening Charge to the Core" underlined that importance by celebrating our community as well as what we do for our students.