A Note from Fr. Memo Campuzano, C.M. on DePaul’s New Mission Statement

 

Sunrise over Saint Vincent’s Circle, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020, on the Lincoln Park Campus. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)

After 35 years, DePaul University has fully revised its mission statement. Through a 10-month participatory, historically grounded, yet forward-thinking process, direct feedback was gathered from over 600 community members. The updated concise statement is relevant and apt for the DePaul we all know, and for the DePaul of which we dream.

On March 4th, the revised DePaul University Mission Statement and its supporting document were approved unanimously by the Board of Trustees. The approval process went faster than an expected May timeframe. I believe this demonstrates that the participatory nature of the mission statement review process worked as we had hoped. It proves the value of shared governance in helping us to define a mutual understanding of who we are and how we want to live out our common mission in this historic moment.

The review process was a beautiful, concrete expression of communal discernment. While many may not realize it, our approach of inclusive reflection and community articulation of common dreams and values is very much in the spirit of Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac. As this process has achieved with many other institutions of the worldwide Vincentian Family, it both captured and embodied the Vincentian spirit so valued at DePaul.

Invitations to review the mission statement went out on Newsline and social media, through Colleges, departments, student groups, and administrative offices, via SGA and Faculty and Staff Councils. We listened to many voices at over 70 Dialogues. Many were impassioned and advocated for mission-related ideas that they felt were most important. I can say with confidence that great care was given to revising the statement, down to negotiating the meaning and inclusion of individual words. For instance, including “environmental” justice for students and others fiercely dedicated to sustainability. Or, discussing the wording “with special attention to” as all are served and all have agency, yet we must recognize our Vincentian legacy of reaching out especially to those most in need who are not well-served by systems. It is my belief that every word of the statement has deep meaning and that each word illustrates the common themes of DePaul’s mission that emerged clearly from the audiences we relied upon for community input.

DePaul stakeholders agreed that we are Catholic, Vincentian, and anchored in the global city of Chicago, and that our university educates the whole person in a variety of ways that uphold human dignity. Review participants insisted that DePaul commit to addressing the great societal challenges of our day as both an educational institution connected to local and global communities, and through our graduates whom we hope will be change agents for greater good as well as successful in their professions. The umbrellas of Vincentian personalism and professionalism express the culture and approach at DePaul that many feel differentiate it from other institutions. As we served an immigrant population in the late 1800s, so do we continue to educate underserved and underrepresented communities today.

Other values and core commitments that commonly emerged through the review process are summarized in the statement’s supporting document, “Distinguishing Characteristics, Core Values, and Commitments.” I am hopeful this document will be referenced by link in every online presentation of the new DePaul Mission Statement and I encourage you to read it.

The participatory review process was itself an education for the DePaul community. Before preparing for a dialogue or taking our survey, many of the participants had never read the full four-page mission statement. Many had never meaningfully discussed with colleagues or fellow students what DePaul’s mission meant to them or how they believed it must be communicated to remain relevant and compelling. A nearly universal desire became apparent for a new concise mission statement that could be fully known, embraced, and integrated into life at DePaul. This was also recommended to the university during the last Higher Learning Commission accreditation process. I hope the new statement fulfills that wish.

In many ways the statement review process—comprised of a rigorous four-phase approach of historical review, capturing mission in action through Seeds of the Mission videos, over 70 mission statement dialogues and survey responses, and the Board survey—seems completed after a year. But the work of the new mission statement has just begun.

It is time to begin sharing the statement broadly on websites, in syllabi, and on signage where it can be easily seen. Departments and areas need to reflect on their own internal mission and vision statements, and on their website and marketing language. We must integrate the language and ideas of the new DePaul Mission Statement and “Distinguishing Characteristics, Core Values, and Commitments” into our work. We must all attend to the ideals of the statement as more than just words on paper, but as a mission for which we are gathered that provides a central focus for what we do.

Thank you to all who participated in the review process. And thanks to all who will be enlivened by the new statement, making decisions in using it as a guide, holding DePaul accountable for living it, and celebrating our common Vincentian spirit. Together, We Are DePaul.

Rev. Guillermo (Memo) Campuzano, CM
Vice President of Mission and Ministry


Watch the Video on the Review of DePaul’s Mission Statement

DePaul University Mission Statement
Adopted by the Board of Trustees on March 4, 2021

As an innovative Catholic, Vincentian university anchored in the global city of Chicago, DePaul supports the integral human development of its students. The university does so through its commitment to outstanding teaching, academic excellence, real world experience, community engagement, and systemic change. DePaul prepares graduates to be successful in their chosen fields and agents of transformation throughout their lives.

Guided by an ethic of Vincentian personalism and professionalism, DePaul compassionately upholds the dignity of all members of its diverse, multi-faith, and inclusive community. Through education and research, the university addresses the great questions of our day, promoting peaceful, just, and equitable solutions to social and environmental challenges. Since its founding in 1898, DePaul University has remained dedicated to making education accessible to all, with special attention to including underserved and underrepresented communities.

Read our Distinguishing Characteristics, Core Values, and Commitments…

Seeds of the Mission: Tyneka Harris Coronado

Vincentian Personalism 

Coined at DePaul in the 1970s, the term Vincentian Personalism refers to the Vincentian family’s dedication to human dignity and holistic care. St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac approached their work with a person-first lens. They saw each person they encountered, whether rich or poor, as God’s beloved creation. This was evident in their commitment to care for both the physical and spiritual needs of those on the margins.  

Vie Thorgren, a Vincentian leader in Denver, Colorado, says, “There is no such thing in the Vincentian family as someone who does not belong.” To Vincent and Louise, nobody was invisible. They recognized the worth and gifts in each person they encountered and sought to create a sense of belonging for those who were often forgotten or excluded from the narrative.  

In this sense, we strive to foster a sense of belonging at DePaul. We hope that every student, staff, and faculty member who is part of the DePaul community feels seen for their whole personhood. A DePaul education goes beyond intellectual development and seeks to cultivate holistic growth. We hope that each student who graduates from DePaul understands their larger sense of purpose in the world beyond their resume, degree, or job title. We are spiritual as well as academic, personal as well as professional. 

Servant Leadership 

In 1977, Robert K. Greenleaf wrote, Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness.(1) This book invited readers to turn their understanding of leadership on its head and imagine an effective leader as someone who approaches their work with humility and selflessness rather than emphasizing power. Greenleaf’s research articulated foundational qualities of leadership similar to those with which Vincent approached his work. Some of these qualities include the following questions: 

  • Do those served grow as persons?  
  • Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?  
  • What is the effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit, or, at least, not be further deprived?(2) 

Servant leadership is rooted in active listening. For the Vincentian family, this means building relationships with a community, hearing their stories, and understanding their needs before taking action. As Vincentians, we do not seek to “fix” but rather to be in solidarity. This requires asking the questions, “What do you need? How can I be of service?” before taking action. It is a way of rejecting the false sense of savior-ism and seeking instead mutual, meaningful relationships. 

In the article, “Servant Leadership in the Manner of St. Vincent de Paul,” J. Patrick Murphy, C.M., writes, “Vincent came to servant leadership through prayer and scripture. He was inspired, for instance, by the passage from Luke: Earthly kings lord it over their people. Those who exercise authority over them are called their benefactors. Yet it cannot be that way with you. Let the greater among you be as the junior, the leader as servant.”(3) 

Servant Leadership seeks to dismantle inequitable power structures and place people on even ground. Murphy goes on to write, “Vincent turned the church upside down (we truly can think of it as an inverted pyramid) to put the poor on top with the rest of (society) in service and support.”(4) We see this lived out in the structure of the Daughters of Charity. Instead of being called Superior Generals, as many leaders are called in Catholic faith communities, the Daughters refer to their community leaders as Sister Servants.  

Servant Leadership is inseparable from Vincentian Personalism; both are bound up in the way Vincentians see and treat people. A Vincentian leader is concerned not with authority but with the wellbeing and dignity of those in their care. 

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1) Robert K. GreenleafServant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness (New York: Paulist Press, 1977), 335 pp. 

2) J. Patrick Murphy, C.M., “Servant Leadership in the Manner of Saint Vincent de Paul,” Vincentian Heritage 19:1 (1998), p. 122. See: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vhj/vol19/iss1/7/  

3) Ibid., 123. 

4) Ibid., 124. 

Seeds of the Mission, an Introduction

On behalf of the Division of Mission and Ministry and DePaul University we are excited to share the Seeds of the Mission Campaign stories. We are grateful to the students, faculty, staff and alumni who have graciously taken the time to share their mission-in-action stories. Gathering Seeds of the Mission stories is the first step to reviewing and possibly revising the University mission statement. Listening to and amplifying Seeds of the Mission stories helps us to understand who we have been, and who we are now, so that we may transform into who we are called to be in the twenty-first century. We invite you to watch these stories and to continue to reflect upon the living mission at DePaulAs a next step, this Fall we will be conducting dialogues to move towards the reviewing and possible revising of the University mission statement. 

Review of The Mission Statement

The Division of Mission and Ministry has been charged with leading the process of gathering the necessary information, data and input from the university community to assist the Board of Trustees with this process.

A multi-step process is been implemented during this academic year, involving:

  1. A review of the history of DePaul’s mission statement and other related documents that describe the self-understanding of DePaul’s sense of purpose and vision and how it has evolved over the course of its history.
  2. The Seeds of the Mission Campaign will seek to identify current-day examples of DePaul’s mission-in-practice across the university.
  3. A series of dialogue sessions with a wide and diverse range of the DePaul community of faculty, staff, students and alumni to invite their qualitative input on what is essential to DePaul’s mission.
  4. Board of Trustees Survey

The information, data, and input from these 3 steps will be synthesized and presented to the Board of Trustees Mission Committee in the Winter of 2021 for consideration. This committee will then be responsible for presenting their findings and recommendations to the full Board of Trustees by the spring of 2021.

Supreme Court DACA Ruling and the Vincentian Mission

 

This is a podcast interview with Rev. Craig B. Mousin founder and former Executive Director of the Midwest Immigrant Rights Center and an Adjunct Faculty member at DePaul University’s College of Law. He talks about the June, 2020 18, DACA ruling by the United States Supreme Court and what DACA means for the Vincentian Community and DePaul Students.

For more information visit: National Immigrant Justice Center: immigrantjustice.org/issues/daca-and-dreamers

We reference this previous episode in this podcast: “It is more than just the dreamers”

Recognizing Seeds of the Mission

As the DePaul community actively considers what is fundamental to how we understand and live our shared Vincentian mission, what initiatives, stories, and people serve as authentic and striking examples of our mission to you?

The examples that come to mind as you reflect on this question might be understood as Seeds of the Mission, the title of the current Division of Mission and Ministry campaign. This campaign is an important first step in the process that will be taking place in the coming months as part of the review and potential revision of the DePaul University mission statement.

The concept of a seed suggests something that is small now, but that also has great potential for growth if tended and cared for. Seeds are a hopeful sign. Therefore, this image speaks to the importance of what we are doing now to sustain the future of our shared Vincentian mission for the generations who follow. The future vitality of our Vincentian mission will depend on our ability to identify and cultivate what is essential to our mission today, especially within the context of DePaul’s vocation as a university.

The foundational concept behind the Seeds of the Mission campaign borrows and adapts the idea of “seeds of the Word.” This phrase appears most notably in Vatican II documents and describes the relationship between the mission of the Catholic Church and peoples of various cultures and religions around the world. The concept is traced back to a famous second-century Christian philosopher and martyr named Justin, who introduced the idea of “seeds of the Word of God.”1 The Vatican II documents use this concept to encourage people of faith to “…gladly and reverently lay bare the seeds of the Word which lie hidden among their fellows.”2 According to this understanding, the seeds of the Word are present in the heart of every person, and in any human initiative, that strives toward the justice, mercy, and compassion as modeled by the life of Jesus. The underlying theology inherent in this concept promotes an approach to diverse peoples founded on human dignity, engagement, and dialogue. It emphasizes an understanding of the Church’s activity in the world that corresponds closely to the vision and praxis of the current Pope Francis, as well as to our own Vincentian charism.

At DePaul, we often speak of bringing together “a community gathered together for the sake of a common mission.” We believe this communal approach enables our students to gain personal wisdom while we work together to build a more just society that honors and affirms the dignity of all.

Considering this background rooted in the Vincentian practice of valuing and learning from experience, the Seeds of the Mission campaign invites you, the DePaul community, to share what you have seen. What you have experienced that resonates with or reflects the heart of DePaul’s mission?

Please let us know: What initiatives, stories, and people serve as authentic and striking examples of DePaul’s Vincentian mission for you?


1) First Apology of Justin Martyr, Apol. I. 44.

2) 11, Ad Gentes, Decree on the Mission Activity of the Church, Second Vatican Council, 7 December 1965.