Charge from President Paul Fitzgerald, SJ

August 27, 2020

Dear Mission Council Members,

In his 2018 address to the International Association of Jesuit Universities, Arturo Sosa, SJ, superior general of the Society of Jesus, said: “Being loyal to our tradition means creatively responding to the signs of the times by relying on the identity that binds us to that tradition.” The Jesuit Catholic tradition that grounds and animates USF’s mission is a living tradition--contextual and historically situated in diverse and dynamic ways. How we articulate and live out this mission should reflect the time in which we live, the location in which we live, and the diversity of voices that make up our community.

Our mission statement was approved by the board of trustees on September 11, 2001. As we look to 2021, I invite you to reflect on the statement with openness and attention to the lived realities and greatest aspirations that make up our community. In the coming year, I invite the council to listen to the voices of the USF community as you facilitate reflections on the vision, mission, and values statement of the university. Your careful listening and ongoing reflection will inform a revision of the mission statement to be presented to the board of trustees for approval at the September 2021 meeting. Each stage below is meant to empower the community to participate in re-articulating the statement so it reflects with integrity and courage the unique mission of USF.

● September 2020, I will appoint a small writing committee of three colleagues who will be responsible for an initial draft of the mission statement.
● September - December 2020, the mission council will generate reflections on the mission among their divisions, associations, and affinity groups and will summarize these conversations for the writing committee.
● December 2020, the writing committee will submit a draft to the President’s Cabinet for review. This draft will be a touchstone for the strategic planning process already underway.
● January - May 2021, the mission council will hold listening sessions and community conversations to solicit feedback on the draft.
● June 2021, the writing committee will integrate feedback from the community and submit a draft to the board of trustees for their summer meeting.
● September 2021, the final draft will be submitted to the board of trustees for their approval.

I realize this invitation comes at a difficult time for the university and the world. With injustices, inequality and systemic racism exposed by the pandemic, we need to lean into our mission more than ever. I will join you for a session at your retreat on September 3 and I welcome your questions and thoughts at that time.

Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J. President