A Letter from President Paul Fitzgerald S.J.
At Convocation in the fall of 2016 and at Town Hall in the spring of 2017, I described USF as “healthy but vulnerable.” The university provides an excellent education across 100-plus degree programs that are increasingly recognized for their quality by potential students, benefactors, and the general public. However, we are vulnerable to some of the larger socio-economic, market, and political forces which affect and at times imperil all of higher education.
After ten years of tremendous growth in enrollments and in programs, this seems the moment to pause and take stock of where we are and where we would like to go. In my view, this is an opportune time for the USF community as a whole to benefit from the wisdom and insights of her faculty and staff members.
The Magis Project is designed as an inductive brainstorming/blue sky series of conversations among the members of seven working groups, each tasked to think about a broad area of university operations. The two co-leads, along with members of a steering committee that they co-chair, will both encourage broad participation and later put forward the most promising ideas to my Cabinet and me.
St. Ignatius used the word magis to indicate a process of discernment through which a person or a community takes careful stock of who they are, where they have been, and what is the more excellent way forward. The communal discernment that we are launching necessarily involves deep listening, a careful consideration of suggestions against the backdrop of our university mission and identity, charitable dialogue and a willingness to be inspired by promising ideas that suggest new ways of proceeding.
My hope is that by the end of this process of discernment, we will have identified concrete ways to improve and enhance our work together at USF. We will have discovered processes to be streamlined to lower frustration levels across the campus. We will have found redundancies such that we can rededicate portions of people’s time to more productive and more enjoyable business activities. We will have traced improved pathways for student success. We will have imagined new academic initiatives that will further burnish our reputation as the university that is reinventing Jesuit education in the heart of the city that is inventing tomorrow. I am confident that the process and the ideas it brings to light will be transformative for our community, allowing us to fulfill our mission in an increasingly competitive future.
Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.