Inside USD

Ever-Changing World Requires Changemaker Skills

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Early in her remarks during the University of San Diego’s 2012 Fall Convocation, Executive Vice President and Provost Julie Sullivan defined a university’s existence in the context of society, regardless of time.

“The institution of the university has always been an expression of humankind’s need to constantly examine and re-examine our world in order to better understand it and contribute to it,” she said.

Founded in 1949, opened in February 1952 as the San Diego College for Women, added the San Diego College for Men and School of Law in 1954 and, ultimately, the 1972 merger of what today is the University of San Diego, Sullivan’s definition honored the exceptional work of USD’s past and present contributors.

Several contributors were honored prior to Sullivan’s talk:

Honored for their service since the USD merger 40 years ago: Lawrence Alexander and Herbert Lazerow (Law professors); Dennis Clausen (English professor); Iris Engstrand (History professor); Brigitte Heimers (Languages and Literatures professor); Jack Pope (Mathematics and Computer Science professor); Curt Spanis (Biology professor); Federico Rocha (Grounds and Transportation manager); and Roger Mannion (Business Services and Administration, assistant vice president).

Nine faculty members received USD’s annual awards for exceptional teaching, research and service: University ProfessorshipsCan Bilsel, PhD, (Department Chair for Art, Architecture + Art History); Stephen Conroy, PhD, (Economics Professor, Director of the Center for Peace and Commerce); Tammy Dwyer, PhD, (Professor/Department Chair for Chemistry and Biochemistry); Fred Galloway, PhD, (Higher Education Leadership Studies Professor); and Orly Lobel (Law Professor). Steber Professorships — Bahar Davary, PhD (Theology and Religious Studies Professor, Affiliate Ethnic Studies Professor); Johanna Hunsaker (Professor/Department Chair for Business Management, Law and Ethics Group). Herzog Endowed Scholar — Ted Sichelman, JD (Law Professor); Class of 1975 Endowed Professorship — Herbert Lazerow, JD (Law Professor).

Sullivan’s praise for what USD has been segued to her vision of USD’s future as a Changemaker Campus.

She spoke of the importance of USD’s mission and identity as a Catholic university and specifically pointed to three fundamental principles of Catholic Social Thought that link to being a Changemaker: Dignity of the Human Person, Solidarity and Care for Creation.

“A USD education inspires and empowers students to become Changemakers — to make the difference they seek — to become individuals with self-fulfilling lives who are proactively creating positive social, environmental and economic value,” Sullivan said. “I posit that a USD education, by providing the depth and breadth of knowledge, as well as the attitudes and skills, required of a Changemaker, has never been more relevant than it is today.”

Sullivan talked about the attributes of today’s Changemakers:

“A Changemaker requires both a depth and breadth of knowledge to analyze and understand the complexity of our world and its local and global challenges; to appreciate the interconnectedness of humanity; and to appreciate the interconnectedness of historical, political, economic, religious and cultural influences on society,” she said. “A Changemaker needs rigorous analytical skills to think critically and creatively about related, and often competing, ideas and to question assumptions. A Changemaker needs the attitudes and skills to be inspired and empowered to transform.”

Sullivan then spoke of ways in which a USD education develops and enhances a Changemaker’s attitudes and skills.

“A Changemaker has the habit of self-reflection to discern the power of his or her words, ideas and actions; feels empathy for the plight of others; is comfortable with ambiguity; is not afraid of failure and knows it is OK to be wrong because errors are crucial to the path to discovery, understanding and change; and is optimistic and embraces challenges as opportunities for positive transformation,” she said.

USD’s designation as an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus last fall, Sullivan noted, “was earned based upon the value and relevancy of the USD education we provide. It was earned based upon the accomplishments of USD students, alumni, faculty and staff to making a difference in the world. It was also earned based on USD’s commitment to growing our future changemaking educational programs and initiatives.”

Sullivan said the USD Changemaker Hub, whose core team consists of Business Professor and Director Patricia Marquez, Assistant Director Juan Carlos Rivas, and Center for Community Service-Learning Director Chris Nayve as its advisor for community engagement, is not a center.

“It is an ecosystem to connect people and initiatives, to foster collaboration and integration and to catalyze innovation and creativity,” Sullivan explained.

Some examples of the Hub’s campus connections:

• The Center for Educational Excellence has formed Changemaker Professional Learning Communities for faculty and graduate student teachers.

• Associated Students will host a Changemaker Fall Festival Nov. 5-8.

• Third annual Social Innovation Challenge, open to all USD students, is a strong platform for inspiring and innovative ideas. Another program, One Challenge for All, will debut later this year.

• The Student Changemaker Scholarship Program is available to students demonstrating skills, commitment and passion for social change.

• USD will host the 2013 Ashoka U Exchange, the world’s premier gathering for social entrepreneurship education, Feb. 21-23. The event attracts 650 faculty, students, social entrepreneurs and funders from around the world.

“There will be a plethora of on-going and new Changemaker activities this year sponsored by any number of groups on campus,” said Sullivan, “… Because changemaking is in our DNA; it infuses many, if not most, of our activities.”

— Ryan T. Blystone

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